G20 countries continue to support fossil fuels through Covid-19 response

Despite repeated promises to end oil, gas and coal subsidies, G20 governments continue to fund fossil fuels, and the COVID-19 crisis does little to change that, the new report reads.

The G20’s major economies are “moving in the wrong direction” in response to the coronavirus pandemic by using stimulus spending to support industries and businesses that rely heavily on planet-heating fossil fuels, researchers said Tuesday.

Despite repeated promises to end subsidies for oil, gas and coal, G20 governments continue to fund fossil fuels, and the COVID-19 crisis has done nothing about it, according to a new report.

It pointed to regularly updated figures from Energy Policy Tracker, a non-profit research project. The latest data shows that G20 countries have so far spent more than $ 230 billion on COVID-19 recycling funds for dirty energy.

In comparison, they plan to invest less than $ 150 billion in clean energy.

The report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the advocacy group Oil Change International said spending on G20 repairs is likely to undo some unpredictable progress between 2014 and 2019.

Angela Picciariello, a senior research officer at ODI, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the implications were “particularly worrying and disappointing”.

“The current direction of travel is not encouraging and should be reversed as soon as possible” if the world wants to achieve the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times , she said by email.

“To be in line with 1.5C and avoid the worst of the climate crisis, the G20 governments must exclude any continued support for fossil fuels, in terms of repair costs or otherwise,” she adds.

The report asks that public money spent on fossil fuels will help recover economies from the COVID-19 crisis to have green conditions. It called on governments to support more sustainable areas such as health, social support and clean energy.

The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the most important greenhouse gas that causes climate change. Scientists have said these emissions should be curbed to limit global temperature rise and ward off catastrophic weather conditions.

Yet, more than ten years after the G20 leaders agreed to end subsidies on fossil fuels – which keep fuel prices artificially low, increase demand and cause more emissions – progress has been ‘very limited and certainly insufficient to meet Paris’ goals’. to reach ‘, Picciariello said.

“No G20 country is performing as it should. Most of the countries we have reviewed have shown minimal progress over the past three years,” she added.

Between 2017 and 2019, G20 governments supported fossil fuels up to $ 584 billion a year, 9% less than in the period 2014-2016, according to the report.

Seven countries – Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Russia and South Africa – have increased their support for fossil fuels during this time.

The report ranked G20 countries on seven indicators, including transparency, public spending on coal, oil and gas, power-based fossil fuels, and how aid has changed over time.

Germany achieved the cleanest score among G20 countries that also belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of rich countries.

Brazil achieves the highest score for G20 countries outside the OECD, but new measures such as an upcoming natural gas bill that would establish tax exemptions and low interest rates for investment in gas facilities and pipelines could change that, said Bronwen Tucker, an analyst at Oil Change International, warned. .

Britain, Turkey and Mexico were the lowest among the G20 OECD members, and Saudi Arabia came last out of non-OECD countries.

The report criticizes Britain for not being transparent, saying it denies the provision of fossil fuel subsidies is “based on its own narrow definition”, while still channeling $ 16.4 billion in government aid to fossil fuels annually .

The support comes from the previous tax revenue of $ 12.7 billion, direct budget transfers and public finances, he said.

The British government’s definition of subsidies follows that of the International Energy Agency, which excludes the measures, Picciariello said.

The UK Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy did not respond to a request for comment.

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