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The 300-350 Show: phasing out fossil fuel subsidies

Phil England

6th October, 2009

A pre-requisite for making the transition to a clean energy future is to switch subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy projects. If that’s the case, why are we still bank-rolling dirty energy projects in developing countries?

World Bank lending for fossil fuels rose by 94 per cent between 2007 and 2008 to over $3 billion, which far outweighs the $476 million it gave to 'new renewables' energy projects.

World Bank lending for coal in particular rose 256 per cent from 2007 to 2008. This contradicts the Bank’s own rhetoric in its 'World Development Report' published in September that advises against 'locking the world into high-carbon infrastructure'.

Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International has been campaigning for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies for many years. He says that if the G20 leaders were serious about their Pittsburgh commitment to phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, they could end World Bank and Export Credit Agency support at the stroke of a pen.

However, rather than putting their own house in order first, there is a danger that the G20 could choose to focus on the the subsidies that developing countries use to make energy services affordable for the poor. If that’s the case, we still have a job to do in holding the G20 to account.

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