Tue, Jun 05, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Rich nations prop up oil, gas despite green pledges

Thomson Reuters Foundation, LONDON

The world’s major industrial democracies spend at least US$100 billion each year to prop up oil, gas and coal consumption, despite vows to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, a report said yesterday ahead of the G7 summit in Canada.

Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US in 2016 pledged to phase out their support for fossil fuels by 2025.

However, a study led by Britain’s Overseas Development Institute found they spent at least US$100 billion a year to support fossil fuels at home and abroad in 2015 and 2016.

“Governments often say they have no public resources to support the clean energy transition,” the study’s lead author Shelagh Whitley told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “What we’re trying to do is highlight that those resources are there [but] it is being used inefficiently.”

“The G7 have pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but they don’t have any systems in terms of accountability to meet the pledges — they don’t have road maps or plans,” added Whitley, head of the institute’s climate division.

Researchers scrutinized and scored each country against indicators, such as transparency, pledges and commitments, as well as their progress toward ending the use, support and production of fossil fuels.

France was ranked the highest overall, scoring 63 out of 100 points, followed by Germany (62), Canada (54) and the UK (47), the report said.

The US scored lowest with 42 points due to its support for fossil-fuel production and its withdrawal from a 2015 global pact to fight climate change.

US President Donald Trump a year ago announced he was ditching the deal agreed upon by nearly 200 countries over opposition from businesses and US allies.

The 2015 Paris agreement committed nations to curbing greenhouse emissions and keeping the global hike in temperatures “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial times.

Britain scored the lowest on transparency for denying that it provided fossil-fuel subsidies, even though it supported tax breaks for North Sea oil and gas exploration, the report said.

“We do not subsidize the production or consumption of fossil fuels,” a spokesman from the British Treasury said in e-mailed comments to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We are supporting other countries in phasing out their own fossil-fuel subsidies, as part of our commitment to the G20 and G7 pledges,” he added.

The study, which was coauthored by Oil Change International, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Natural Resources Defense Council, urged G7 governments to set concrete plans to end fossil-fuel subsidies by 2025 as pledged.

“What should be a low-hanging fruit in terms of moving public resources away from fossil fuels is not happening, or where it is happening, it’s not happening fast enough,” Whitley said.

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