Climate Change

Published on June 30th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Breaking: Obama Gets G-20 to End $558 Billion in Fossil Fuel Subsidies

June 30th, 2010 by  

With the evidence of our gluttony for oil now rudely lapping at our shores, at the G-20 meeting that just wrapped up in Toronto, Obama pressed for and got agreement from other world leaders to actually end fossil fuel subsidies, by erasing the word “voluntary” in the agreement, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.


Despite the earlier fears of environmentalists that it would be merely a voluntary “goal”,  at the last minute a newly muscular non-voluntary end to fossil energy subsidies, was inserted into the final language of the G-20 agreement, at the request of the US President. found that fossil fuel subsidies amounted to $558 billion worldwide in 2008.

The top 20 nations at the G-20 have now also agreed to ongoing reviews to check on how well each of them lives up to the commitment.

Initially, the agreement was to be a mere “voluntary” agreement, to the alarm of environmentalists. But at the last minute, President Obama changed the wording. By omitting the word “voluntary”, and including checkups, the agreement becomes much stronger.

It appears that coaxing world leaders who run actual democracies to do the right thing for their people is not as difficult as coaxing Senators in this country to.

As the nation that most pampers its fossil energy overlords, it will be US fossil energy companies with the most to lose by this end to fossil fuel subsidies. But with an international agreement, even those that relocate their headquarters off-shore will now be covered by this agreement.

Despite the fossil fuel subsidies that a mere president cannot end, those that keep our  Senate from voting with their non-corporate constituents, perhaps America is finally ready to move beyond petroleum.

So far, we’ve cheerfully led the world in the inefficiency of our gasoline vehicles, with 34% sold only getting between 15 and 20 miles per gallon – compared with the carbon-constrained EU where under 1% of vehicles sold are now that inefficient. So our carbon emissions are almost double those of the EU at 256 grams per kilometer, compared with their 140.

But have we finally hit our rock bottom, as they say in the addiction-recovery world? Has the gushing volcano of dangerous oil in the Gulf finally moved us to a different place?

Image: Guardian

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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    You have some good points there. I did a research about the topic and wanted to let you know that I found out the vast majority of pros will agree with your article.

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  • Karl, There is plenty of renewable energy deployable now that could end our dependence on oil.

    It would require a massive switch, akin to when we built the highway system, or invested in the railroads, back before democracy was undermined by the lies and the Senate funding of the fossil energy system to prevent us from acting in our interest.

  • Karl

    “… perhaps America is finally ready to move beyond petroleum.”

    A new technology has been invented that can generate energy on the same scale as fossil fuel? I haven’t heard about it, do tell! Did someone get a fusion reactor working and I missed the 411?

  • Sven

    I absolutely support the end of these subsidies. But I’m sure Washington will go and do something stupid to ruin it though.

  • blue7053

    The first step is not to end the subsidy but to end the relationship that provided the subsidy in the first place.

  • cenzo

    So he struck “voluntary”; did he insert any sort of timetable/deadlines? Without those, any agreement is as good as voluntary anyway.

  • Karl

    Finally! That should help to pay down the deficit AND foster competition in favor of clean tech. Nobody that believes in a free market should be against thisso if teh conservative tea party activists really support free trade etc then they should support this move.

  • Dave

    How much of that $558 billion is actually from the US?

  • Ben

    This is very big news! I’m so glad something positive came out of the G20.

  • This is fantastic! Hopefully the senate will actually follow through, now that we’re in a pseudo-binding international agreement.

    Wonderful news.

  • Bodryn

    This is way overdue — it’s hard to conceive of governments paying companies to drill for oil when they’ve been making record profits, meanwhile cutting back on help for the low income people. If they want the economy to pick up steam, how about giving funds to the people who will spend it, and jump start the economy?

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