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Fossil fuel subsidies soar to $544 billion

The Ecologist

11th December 2013

Four years ago OECD country leaders promised to reduce fossil fuel subsidies. Now IEA figures show they have soared from $300 billion to $544 billion.

It is shameful that subsidies have grown 45% since the G20 committed to eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

At the Pittsburgh G20 Summit in 2009, the world’s most developed countries committed to eliminating unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies.

At the time fossil fuel subsidies had reached $300 billion. But as the International Energy Agency revealed in their annual World Energy Outlook, fossil fuel consumption subsidies reached $544 billion in 2012 - up from $523 billion in 2011.

The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), which promotes biofuels, condemned the lack of progress. "It is shameful that subsidies have grown 45% since the G20 committed to eliminating fossil fuel subsidies", said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

"Although we seem to be very aware of climate change, the leaders of the world’s most important nations have not slowed the subsidization of the consumption and production of crude oil in 4 years."

But biofuels have also come under fire from campaigners, who say the requirement in the US and the EU to include bio-diesel or bio-ethanol in transport fuels is causing massive rainforest destruction, driving animals such as orangutans towards extinction; increasing world hunger by using up scarce food supplies for making fuel; and driving aggressive land grabs in the global south.

The GFRA is itself an immensely powerful lobby group. Representing over 65% of the global biofuels production from 44 countries, it promotes biofuel friendly policies internationally. "Through the development of new technologies and best practices", it says, "Alliance members are committed to producing renewable fuels with the smallest possible footprint."


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