We wrote recently about how, despite the urgent need for the world to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, they continue at "an eye-watering $452 billion every year." Imagine if that $452 billion was used to promote a rapid transition to a clean, sustainable energy economy, instead of more climate-and-environment-destroying, carbon-based fuels? A Reuters story last week explains further what these fossil fuel subsidies could be used for, focusing specifically on eight "industrialized" nations, including the United States.
Eight industrialised nations - Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States - spend a combined $80 billion a year on public support for fossil fuel production, but have pledged only about $2 billion a year to the Green Climate Fund, Oil Change International said.
"Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies could be a massive double win," Alex Doukas, the group's senior campaigner, said in a statement on the research analysis.
"It would stop a huge waste of public money that's driving the climate crisis, while at the same time freeing up money that can help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and make the shift to renewable energy."
Clearly, getting rid of fossil fuel subsidies makes sense in a wide variety of ways. So why hasn't it happened yet? In part, of course, because of strong political lobbying and other pressure by the fossil fuel industry, which has enjoyed feeding at the public subsidies trough for decades now, and would prefer not to be weaned off anytime soon. Even more galling is the fact that there's currently a move in the U.S. to wean the solar and wind industries off their relatively small tax credits, even as no comparable legislative effort exists for the fossil fuel industry. Instead, what would make a lot more sense is the exact opposite: kick the dirty fossil fuel industry off its taxpayer-funded corporate welfare and use some of that money to encourage faster adoption of wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other forms of clean, sustainable energy.