Published on September 29th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
Europe Is Providing More Than €112 Billion Annually In Fossil Fuel Subsidies
September 29th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
European governments and the European Union itself are together handing out more than €112 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, with almost all of it going towards the transport sector, according to a new report published this week.
A new report published this week by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe has for the first time compiled detailed information on the level of fossil fuel subsidies for oil, gas, and coal being provided by 11 European countries and the European Union itself between 2014 and 2016 — and the outcome isn’t pretty. The new report, Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies, found that a total of over €112 billion per year was being funneled towards fossil fuels, with the transport sector walking away as the main beneficiary with more than €49 billion each year. Specifically, the transport sector was receiving support for the use of fossil fuels, including tax breaks to reduce the price of diesel.
Government hypocrisy when it comes to fossil fuel subsidies isn’t new, but it is always a little surprising to see the sheer scale of the hypocrisy writ large in so many billions of dollars and Euros. In Europe, the researchers highlight the impact these subsidies have on the use of diesel at a time when its impact on air pollution is increasing risks to human health.
“The air pollution crisis in cities across Europe and the recent diesel emissions testing scandal have rightly led to increased pressure for governments to act, yet our analysis shows European countries are providing enormous fossil fuel subsidies to the transport sector,” said lead author Shelagh Whitley, Head of Climate and Energy at ODI. “This study shows how governments in Europe and the EU continue to subsidise and finance a reliance on oil, gas and coal, fuelling dangerous climate change and air pollution with tax-payers’ money.”
The European Union and its Member States have all committed to phasing out their fossil fuel subsidies by 2020, but the reality is another matter, and all are failing to match their bold commitments which in turn risk their larger decarbonization efforts. The new report found that the European Union is providing an annual average of €4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies through its own budget, development and investment banks, and funds.
“The €4bn spent by the EU on fossil fuels, most of which goes to gas infrastructure, locks Europe into fossil fuel dependency for the decades to come,” explained Wendel Trio, director of CAN Europe. “This violates the Paris Agreement’s requirement to make finances work for the climate.”
“In addition, the fact that over €2bn a year is provided by EU Member States to support coal-fired power, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, is unacceptable,” Trio continued. “The EU must stop subsidising fossil fuels. Instead, the scarce resources of the EU budget and the EU’s development and investment banks should serve higher climate ambitions by financing the clean and sustainable energy transition.”
As it pertains to individual governments, the report found that countries like the United Kingdom and France continue to subsidize fossil fuel exploration, providing €253 million per year in public finance between 2014-16 on finding new resources.