A Scan of Critical World Developments
report, G-20 governments are spending $88 billion a year supporting fossil fuel exploration, more than double what oil and gas companies are spending. The US alone provided $5.1 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel exploration in 2013, almost twice what it spent in 2009. Governments subsidize fossil fuel exploration in three key ways that are often hidden from public view: direct investment by state-owned enterprises, direct spending and tax breaks, and public financing at low-interest rates from state banks and financial institutions. Given that, between now and 2050, at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground in order to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, such policies are uneconomic and unsustainable. Nevertheless, earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, exercising his power as G-20 chair, decided to remove climate change from the agenda for this year’s G-20 meeting. As world leaders get ready to meet in Brisbane in December, they would be wise to reconsider.