G20 countries continue to spend billions in public financing for fossil fuels, spending nearly four times as much than on clean energy, averaging more than $70 billion annually and totaling $215.3 billion in deals for oil, gas, and coal between 2013 and 2015.
These are the key findings from a new report analyzing the public fossil fuel financing of G20 nations published this week by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth US, the Sierra Club, and WWF European Policy Office. The report identifies billions in financing being provided to the fossil fuel sector despite G20 governments’ publicized commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and its target of keeping global warming well below 2°C. Specifically, the report found that G20 governments are providing nearly four times more public finance to support fossil fuels than they do to the clean energy sector.
With the G20 nations meeting in Hamburg, Germany, on the 7th and 8th, the number of reports and research being presented to coincide with discussions that are expected to focus on climate change — especially in the wake of the United States announcing that it would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Both the the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to clash with US President Donald Trump at the upcoming Summit over his countries’ isolationist and protectionist climate policies, among others.
The report found that a total of the total public finance provided to the energy sector by G20 institutions and the multilateral development banks between 2013 and 2015, over $71.8 annually, or 58%, went towards supporting fossil fuel production, while only $18.7 billion annually, or 15%, went to supporting clean energy.
Annual Average of Public Finance for Fossil Fuels by Top 12 G20 Countries, 2013-2015
“Our research shows that the G20 still hasn’t put its money where its mouth is when it comes to the clean energy transition,” said Alex Doukas, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International and one of the report’s authors.
“If other G20 governments are serious about standing up to Trump’s climate denial and meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement, they need to stop propping up the outdated fossil fuel industry with public money. The best climate science points to an urgent need to transition to clean energy, but public finance from G20 governments drags us in the opposite direction. We must stop funding fossils and shift these subsidies.”
“G20 leaders may like to talk about climate, but it’s clear their talk is cheap,” added Kate DeAngelis, international policy analyst at Friends of the Earth U.S.
“While praising each other for investing in renewable energy at home, they bankroll billions of dollars for dirty fossil fuel projects in developing countries. G20 leaders’ handouts to fossil fuel companies destroys the health of people and the planet. G20 countries must commit to transitioning from brown to green, once and for all.”
Not only does such financial support for fossil fuels undermine public commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and fighting climate change, but the report shows that such public financing has a three-pronged effect on efforts to address climate change. Specifically, such financing acts as a “negative carbon price” that helps to (further) subsidize and incentivize further fossil fuel production. Secondly, the financing drives high-carbon lock-in, which makes the transition to clean energy even more difficult and expensive. Finally, it makes the otherwise uneconomical dirty fossil fuel energy suddenly economical, enabling what the authors label as “zombie energy” projects that would never have been supported or constructed, let alone made operational, if not for such significant support.
“When the G20 countries committed to the Paris Agreement, they made a pact with the world that they would take meaningful steps to reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis,” explained Nicole Ghio, a senior international campaign representative at the Sierra Club.
“But as we now know, these countries have been talking out of both sides of their mouths. It’s unconscionable that any nation would continue to waste public funds on fossil fuels when clean energy sources like wind and solar are not only readily available but are more cost-effective and healthier for families and communities across the globe. It is past time for G20 nations to stop subsidizing fossil fuels once and for all.”
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