G20 countries guilty of offering huge sops for fossil fuels: Report

M. Ramesh | | Updated on: Nov 29, 2018

In what is apparently a signal to the leaders ahead of the G20 meeting scheduled in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday and Saturday, a report has highlighted the massive subsidies the countries are still providing to fossil fuels and has called for elimination of the same.

The report of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a Canada-based advocacy organisation, notes “hundreds of billions of dollars a year” of public money are being spent by the G20 countries to subsidise fossil fuels.

Titled ‘Shifting Public Money out of Fossil Fuels’, the report stresses that subsidies given to fossil fuels not only support a high-carbon economy, but also represent a missed opportunity to support clean-energy transition.

Though the IISD, which describes itself as “an independent think-tank” that works for sustainable development, does not provide an estimate of the fossil fuel subsidies provided by the G20 countries, it notes that the estimates “can vary from hundreds of billions to several trillions of dollars” depending on the methodology and the scope of estimation.

However, it quotes two-third-party estimates: a study which puts the subsidies at $444 billion in 2013-14 and another, a joint estimate of OECD and IEA, which puts the number at $354 billion for 2014.

Regardless of the number, what IISD stresses is that the G20 countries still subsidise fossil fuels, which is counter-productive. It observes that in some countries, there is progress in removing fossil fuel production subsidies.

“However, due to the immense scale of public money that still promotes the production and consumption of fossil fuels, this nascent positive shift must occur at a much faster rate for the G20 to get on track to meeting the Paris Agreement targets,” it says.

India story

The IISD notes that India collected $12 billion (₹86,440 crore) from coal cess, which is a sort of a ‘carbon tax’. The cess — currently, ₹400 on every tonne of coal mined or imported — works out to $2 per tonne of CO2.

Published on November 29, 2018

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