TORONTO, Nov 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - G20 members
are spending $452 billion a year subsidising fossil fuel
production - nearly four times global spending on renewable
energy subsidies - despite pledging to phase out fossil fuel
support to tackle climate change, a new report said on Thursday.
Global subsidies for renewable energy production amount to
just $121 billion a year, the Overseas Development Institute
(ODI), a UK-based think-tank, and research group Oil Change
International said in their report.
The much greater support given to fossil fuels than to clean
energy technologies by the G20, the world's biggest economies,
makes it harder to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate
change, said the report issued before the G20 summit in Antalya,
Turkey, on Nov. 15-16.
"G20 governments are paying fossil fuel producers to
undermine their own policies on climate change," the ODI's
Shelagh Whitley said in a statement.
"Scrapping these subsidies would rebalance energy markets
and allow a level playing field for clean and efficient
G20 countries backed calls to phase out fossil fuel
subsidies at meetings in 2009 and 2014, but are not making
significant progress, the report said.
G20 governments should adopt strict timelines for phasing
out fossil fuel subsidies and transfer government financial
support to greener forms of energy, it said.
Subsidies to oil and coal producers include direct payments
such as grants, loans and equity, tax credits, and price
supports, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The report said money provided by G20 governments for fossil
fuel production in 2013 and 2014 included nearly $78 billion a
year in national subsidies, state-owned company investments of
$286 billion, and other public finance support valued at $88
Russia had the highest national subsidies among the G20,
providing almost $23 billion.
The United Kingdom was the only G7 nation to significantly
increase support for its fossil fuel industry, providing more
tax breaks and industry support in 2015 for companies extracting
oil from the North Sea - whose oilfields are in decline.
Australia and Brazil each provided national subsidies of
about $5 billion, including handouts for companies looking to
extract fossil fuels from hard-to-reach areas.
Despite calls by U.S. President Barack Obama to scrap fossil
fuel subsidies, the world's largest economy spent more than $20
billion in national subsidies, the report said.
Investments in fossil fuel extraction by Chinese state-owned
firms were the largest of any G20 country, amounting to nearly
$77 billion annually.
Turkey, the G20 summit host, is giving tax breaks to support
its programme of building more coal-fired plants than any other
OECD country, potentially raising its greenhouse gas emissions
by 94 percent over the next 15 years.
Three-quarters of all proven reserves of oil, gas and coal
must stay in the ground to give the world a two-in-three chance
of keeping global temperatures from rising by more than 2
degrees centigrade, the threshold for major climate change, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said last year.
(Reporting By Chris Arsenault, editing by Tim Pearce. Please
credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of
Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights,
trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)