But the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012 also highlights another huge problem which is throwing fuel on the fire: titanic subsidies for fossil fuels. The IEA estimates that $523 billion US dollars was burned in cutting fossil fuel prices in 2011.
Coal, oil and gas are mature industries and should be more than able to stand on their own two feet by now. Renewable energy, in contrast, is relatively new and needs support in driving its costs down – which it is doing, fast – and to compensate for the market failures which mean greenhouse gases continue to be pumped into the atmosphere in ever greater quantities. Yet, in 2011, subsidies for renewables totalled only $88 billion around the world, meaning fossil fuels received six times more. The dirty fuels also got a bigger increase in subsidies in 2011: 30%, compared to the 24% for renewables.
Yes, very good. And the next thing you need to say is who is giving out those subsidies?
We in the advanced industrial nations are paying out those renewables subsidies.
It’s the oil producers and the poor countries (Russia, Saudi, Iran, India, China) that are paying out the fossil subsidies.
The importance of this point being that we cannot go on to say that we must cut our fossil subsidies. Nor, necessarily, raise our renewables ones. It’s other people we’ve got to convince to cut their fossil subsidies. Unless you want to get all colonial on them and send in the gunboats?