Bloomberg Dubs G20 Fossil Fuel Subsidies ‘Untenable’

Last week, BloombergNEF (New Energy Finance) released a report into fossil fuel subsidies in G20 countries. The report dubbed subsidies ‘untenable’ if the Paris climate goal of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees is to be achieved.

From 2015-19, fossil fuel subsidies in the world’s 20 wealthiest countries amounted to $3.3 trillion, around 80% of which go to the oil and gas industries. This is an incredible figure, particularly so late in the piece when global warming has been established science for decades. G20 countries account for approximately three-quarters of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil fuel subsidies by country

The $3.3 trillion figure actually included a 10% reduction in subsidies by 2019 as against 2015. Australia, the US, Canada, Indonesia and Brazil, however, each increased their subsidies. Italy and Germany were the two nations who made the most progress in reducing subsidies and pricing carbon.

China provides the most fossil fuel subsidies in total. However, on a per capita basis its subsidies are about one-third of the G20 average (USD$313 per person). The Australian government gives the fossil fuel sector USD$293 per Australian citizen.

“At today’s prices, that [$3.3tn] sum could fund 4,232GW of new solar power plants — over 3.5 times the size of the U.S. grid,” said the report’s authors. “Further, given varying levels of transparency nations provide on such funds, these figures are probably an under-count.”

The initiative from BloombergNEF is clearly championed by Michael Bloomberg, who is currently the United Nations’ Special Envoy on Climate Ambitions and Solutions. In the role, Bloomberg is working in tandem with the Net-Zero Asset-Owners Alliance, a group of institutional investors with $6.6 trillion under management who are lobbying for climate action.

“Winning the fight against climate change requires urgent and bold action across every industry, and we need governments to lead the way,” said Bloomberg, showing that even the most emblematic capitalist will support government intervention in a crisis.

“Our hope is that G-20 members take this report to heart, use its recommendations to hit their Paris Agreement targets, and show the world the health and economic benefits of building a resilient, sustainable global economy.”

With the number of business leaders and investors now making the switch, isn’t it incredible that the Australian federal government can still be stonewalling on this stuff?

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