Here is why this is so critical and why important progress can be made at Rio+20.
“Many countries continue to subsidize polluting energy systems. These subsidies are costly for the budget and costly for the planet. Countries should reduce them. But in doing so, they must protect vulnerable groups by tightly focusing subsidies on products used by poorer people, and by strengthening social safety nets.”
Countries must change course in Rio. Right now countries are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to set the agenda for international action on several critical issues. And next week over 110 world leaders will arrive to (hopefully) make firm commitments on specific actions they’ll take to address global warming, spur more clean energy, and reduce deforestation. Wouldn’t it be nice if one of those commitments was to finally get out of the business of subsidizing our planetary destruction?
Fortunately, these world leaders have a chance to do just that at Rio. They can commit clearly and loudly to finally phase-out fossil fuel subsidies by 2015 at the latest, they can commit to report on those subsidies in transparent and credible fashion, and they can work with other countries to ensure that the poor aren’t harmed by this transition. This isn’t rocket science as environmental, faith, development, trade, indigenous peoples, youth, and health organizations recently signed a letter demanding exactly this kind of action out of leaders at Rio.
But some countries are standing in the way. Unfortunately some countries are blocking progress on this issue at Rio. Not surprisingly Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC are doing everything in their power to block efforts to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. After all, they really don’t want the world addressing global warming and moving off the destructive use of fossil fuels. And other countries are joining into the mix to stop progress. Some are even proposing that we need to eliminate the important subsidies that are being provided to build a clean energy future, such as through wind and solar.
Luckily a few countries like the U.S., New Zealand, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and the E.U. are standing up. But will they stand strong and will President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil make sure that this issue doesn’t get dropped from the final Rio outcome document? Countries are meeting in the next couple of days to decide the fate of the commitment to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies at Rio. Rio must deliver on this issue.
The public strongly supports world leaders in committing to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies at Rio. Over 1 million citizens throughout the world have sent a clear signal that it is time for world leaders to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies, as our friends at 350.org and Avaaz.org have helped mobilize.
We need your help to send a clear signal that it is time to end fossil fuel subsidies. Join NRDC, 350.org, Avaaz.org, and many others in telling world leaders that it is time to end fossil fuel subsidies. Tweet or post on Facebook: #endfossilfuelsubsidies. Go to endfossilfuelsubsides.org to learn more about this issue and how you can add your voice to the citizens demanding action at the G20 and Rio on fossil fuel subsidies.
* The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that $66 billion in subsidies were provided to renewable energy in 2010. Note that the IEA estimate for fossil fuel subsidies only includes consumption subsidies in 37 countries so their value is lower.