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Report: G20 backslides on fossil fuel subsidies

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The analysis found that at least $170 billion of public money had been pledged to fossil fuel-intensive sectors since the start of the pandemic. AFP

Report: G20 backslides on fossil fuel subsidies

Rich nations are still providing more than half a trillion dollars annually to fossil fuel projects despite committing to slash greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris climate deal, research showed on Tuesday.

While state support to oil, gas and coal has dipped slightly since the landmark 2015 accord, a joint analysis by three climate think tanks found that many nations’ post-pandemic stimulus plans will see billions more given to polluting fuels.

In a grading of Group of 20 (G20) countries’ performance of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, the analysis found that at least $170 billion of public money had been pledged to fossil fuel-intensive sectors since the start of the pandemic.

“G20 governments were already not on track to meet their Paris Agreement commitments on ending support for fossil fuels before Covid-19,” noted Anna Geddes of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, which co-authored the report.

Production and consumption subsidies take the form of tax breaks, rebates, financial incentives or even overseas aid and can keep consumer prices artificially low.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last month that Covid-19 provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity for governments to enact a “step-change in clean energy investment”.

But administrations desperate to get their economies firing again after the damage wrought by Covid-19 seem not to have taken this advice to heart.

Lockdowns and travel bans have seen global carbon pollution plummet this year compared with 2019, which the IEA said must be the “definitive peak” for emissions.

But Tuesday’s analysis showed that rich nations – responsible for the vast majority of emissions – were likely to undo even the slight progress they had made on phasing out subsidies.

It found they had given $584 billion to fossil fuel projects every year between 2016-2019.

Gauging each country’s subsidy reform path, the analysis found that not a single nation has made “good progress” in line with reaching the Paris accord goals.

The 2015 treaty enjoins nations to limit global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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