The only people in the world who actually benefit from the government subsidies doled out to fossil fuel companies—to the tune of over $775 billion annually, in total around the world—are the fossil fuel companies themselves.
It should be obvious, and not need repeating, or be a controversial statement, but it is and is why NRDC has just released a report detailing the myriad benefits of shutting off the corporate welfare tap flowing to oil, coal, and natural gas companies.Beyond that financial savings to taxpayers around the world, each year, NRDC outlines the following benefits of ending fossil fuel subsidies:
- Cut carbon dioxide emissions 6% by 2020.
- Reduce overall energy demand 5% by 2020.
- Importantly, they won't hurt the poor, as the vast majority of fossil fuel subsidies are not at the consumer level, and instead benefit wealthy corporations directly and solely.
More from the NRDC on fossil fuel subsidies: NRDC Fossil Fuel Factsheet
Adding to that estimation of greenhouse gas emissions savings by 2020, it's worth noting that the IEA says ending fossil fuel subsidies would alone get us halfway to stopping dangerous climate change.
On subsidies benefiting the rich far more than the poor (topsy turvy, isn't it?) IEA chief economist Fatih Birol has said that in 2010 just 8% of fossil fuel subsidies went to the poorest 20% of people in the world, with just 11-18% of subsidies going towards lowering the prices consumers pay for fuel.