G20 Steps Up Efforts To Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies


photo via flickr

There's news out of Canada, home of this week's G20, about fossil fuel subsidies. Reports say that at the behest of the USA, the group of the 20 largest economies in the world have agreed to remove language that says that cuts in subsidies should be "voluntary." The result could be greater price party for renewable energy sources. The movement seems to be the result of the Gulf oil spill, which continues unabated. The other news out of the summit was related to deficits. Leaders are preparing a communique that will set a goal of cutting deficits in government spending in half by 2013. Some economists oppose this move, saying that to fuel the economic recovery, we need greater spending, which could lead to larger deficits.

Supposedly, negotiators were committed to allowing countries to make voluntary cuts to oil and coal subsidies, but the agreement changed at the last minute Sunday. The agreement is not a complete phase out, but it's expected to carry deadlines and consequences for inaction. At last year's G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, leaders agreed to the phase out subsidies.

NRDC expressed frustration with the deal: "That was a signal of weakening," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director of the National Resources Defense Council. "It doesn't have the same political 'oomph,' and lacks the political signal that the countries are expected to live up to it."

According to Bloomberg, total US tax breaks and giveways for fossil fuels equals $72.5 billion.

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