International Energy Agency (IEA) Chief Economist Fatih Birol made no bones about his opinion on fossil fuel subsidies at the European Wind Energy Association conference this year. Birol said that “[f]ossil fuel subsidies are public enemy number one for green energy.”
Birol delivered a direct message to governments that continuing tax breaks for fossil fuels companies doesn’t make sense because renewable energies can’t compete with artificially cheap oil and gas, making it impossible to meet climate change targets.
To contend with the charge that renewable resources are too intermittent to replace fossil fuels, Birol asserted that political instability is the real culprit holding green tech back.
Birol called for “governments around the world” to end the $500 billion in annual subsidies that are given to oil and gas production (not to mention the additional subsidies given in the form of permitted externalities), according to Business Green.
Unfortunately, Birol realizes the unlikelihood of governments totally abandoning fossil fuel subsidies in the near future, especially in light of the spike in oil prices after the Arab Spring.
Understanding the true nature of subsidies is a tricky thing. Need some additional reading? Look no further:
- CleanTechnica Director Zach has outlined some key facts about what subsidies mean.
- Energy Subsidies: Oil versus Renewables
- Dana Nuccitelli’s musings on fossil fuel subsidies