New research has shown that the United States continues to subsidize the production and consumption of fossil fuels to the tune of $27 billion, despite repeated pledges since 2009 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
In a groundbreaking new study that ranks G7 countries’ progress toward phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, the United States was ranked last among the world’s largest economies, including France, Germany, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan. Specifically, the research — which was carried out by experts at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Oil Change International (OCI), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) — found that the US Government spent $26 billion in both 2015 and 2016 on fiscal support for fossil fuels, including $15 billion spent on oil and gas production, and another $1 billion on public financing for fossil fuel exploration.
“The world is burning because of climate change, and by pushing for even more fossil fuel subsidies, the Trump Administration is throwing gasoline on the fire,” said Alex Doukas, Stop Funding Fossils Program Director at OCI, with not a little hyperbole. “The rest of the G7 must act on their commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies to demonstrate that, unlike Trump and his friends in the fossil fuel industry, they prioritize urgent action on climate change instead of handouts to dirty energy corporations.”
“The US, and the world, needs to speed up a transition to a low-carbon economy, but this administration is rushing in the wrong direction, and trying to drag other countries down the road to more environmental harm,” added Han Chen, International Climate Advocate at NRDC. “It’s trying to expand subsidized fossil fuel extraction from our public lands and waters at home, while trying to convince other countries like Japan to join their absurd pro-fossil fuels alliance. That’s just wrong, for everyone.”
Overall, the G7 countries are providing at least $100 billion each year to support the production and consumption of oil, gas, and coal, in spite of the fact of repeated pledges to halt fossil fuel subsidies and despite the fact we need to be decreasing our reliance on such fuel sources. More specifically, the $100 billion includes $81 billion in fiscal support through direct spending and tax breaks, and another $20 billion on average per year in public financing.
France ranks first overall — and first in terms of pledges and commitments, ending support for fossil fuel exploration, ending support for coal mining, and ending support for oil and gas production.
For the United States in particular, however, the new research highlighted several areas which contributed to the country’s appalling score:
- The decision to reverse a commitment to restrict public finance for coal-fired power plants
- Tax breaks and loopholes for extraction of fossil fuels, especially from public lands
- The US is providing the highest total level of fiscal support for domestic oil and gas production across G7 countries, about $15 billion annually
“At a time when people all over the world, from Puerto Rico to the Philippines, face the catastrophic and fatal impacts of climate change, continued subsidies for fossil fuel companies in the United States is inhumane and immoral,” Greenpeace USA Climate Director Janet Redman said. “If we are to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, the fossil fuel era must end and make room for a future powered by renewable energy. While we push to stop climate denial in our own country – the latest being Trump’s proposal to prop up the dying coal industry – the rest of the world must make up for the obstructionist in chief costing humanity time it cannot afford to lose.”