Big oil gets big money from the government — as CleanTechnica readers may remember, $4 billion was awarded to big oil in the form of tax breaks in 2011 alone. Given that subsidies worldwide rose to at least $470 billion worldwide in 2010 — according to International Energy Agency analysts — that is perhaps more surprising than it should be.
You read that correctly — fossil fuel subsidies ROSE in 2010, despite G20 member countries agreeing to reduce them. To be fair, total subsidies were lower than 2008 (the great oil price peak of the 21st century) — but they were still much higher than 2009.
While the governments paying out like to tell us that they’re helping keep the cost of gas down, only about a quarter of the subsidies benefit gasoline. According to the IEA, only 8% of the subsidies reach their alleged beneficiaries — the poorest 20% of the population.
Also low on the list of facts made public is increased dependence on foreign oil — the cheaper oil is, the more of it countries are encouraged to buy. The percentage of domestically generated (and hopefully cleaner) energy drops.
If fossil fuel subsidies could be eliminated over the next ten years, the IEA believes global energy demand would drop as oil demand drops. CO2 emissions could also drop by as much as 1.7 billion tons per year (that’s the current total output of the UK, Germany, Italy, and France combined). Half the G20 countries are said to be taking steps, according to the IEA, but money speaks the loudest. Vote with your wallets, guys. Go green and buy less oil.