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Subsidising Pollution?

18 December 2009

How can we reduce fossil fuel use and make the switch to clean energy?  Debates on fossil fuel dependence and its consequences for the environment have reached a crescendo as COP15 nears its deadline.  But did you know that governments still subsidize the use of fossil fuels?  Helen Mountford of the OECD Environment Directorate, Peter Wooders of the IISD and Dr. Fatih Birol of the IEA explain the importance of dealing with these contradictory policies.

Useful links:

OECD and COP15
The IISD Blog

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Laura Nasr permalink
    December 18, 2009

    It’s shocking that, with all we know, fossil fuel use would still be subsidised. We talk about subsidising sustainable energy sources, but why not think about transferring subsidies on fossil fuels to subsidies on clean energy?

  2. January 14, 2010

    Actually, Laura, the bulk of subsidies to fossil fuels in the world are provided by developing countries, particularly oil-exporting countries (for petroleum products), and by Russia (for natural gas). Iran is the largest subsidizer, but has now decided to start raising its prices. In its case, it is concerned about effects on the poor, so most of the savings will be transformed into conditional cash transfers targetted at low-income families.

    That is going to be the situation in many countries. There is not a “pot of money” reserved for the energy sector. The world should definitely stop subsidizing fossil fuels. But the next-best use for that money could be all sorts of spending relating to improving the economic lot of people rather than subsidizing energy, even if it is “clean” energy.

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