Countries Must End Fossil Fuel Subsidies At Rio+20

Eutrophication&hypoxia, via Flickr

by Jamie Henn, via The Huffington Post

How can world leaders at the Rio+20 Earth Summit next week show that they are serious about sustainable development and environmental protection? The answer is simple: end fossil fuel subsidies.

Every year, governments around the world give nearly $1 trillion dollars of public money to the fossil fuel industry. Three years ago, the G20 committed to phase-out these handouts to coal, oil and gas companies, but they haven’t taken any action since.

Now is the perfect time. This June 18, finance ministers and heads of state from G20 countries will come together in Los Cabos, Mexico. Three days later, more than 100 presidents and prime ministers will join over 50,000 people at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the largest environmental conference in world history. Both meetings offer a clear opportunity for world leaders to step up to the plate and stop these outrageous handouts.

After all, how can you have a serious discussion about funding sustainable development without taking on the hundreds of billions of dollars handed over to the fossil fuel sector each year? A mere fraction of these subsidies could jumpstart thousands of clean energy projects around the world. Large scale transfers of money from dirty to clean investments could catalyze the type of worldwide energy transformation that is desperately needed.

It’s still unclear if leaders will take the type of bold action necessary, but the push to end fossil fuel subsidies is gaining momentum around the world. On June 18, a dozen major groups — from World Wildlife Fund to Avaaz — are taking part in a 24-hour “Twitter Storm” to try and flood the online airwaves with the #endfossilfuelsubsidies hashtag. The coalition may even be within striking distance of taking down Justin Bieber’s twitter world record for the most tweets on a single hashtag.

The slogan for the Rio+20 meetings is, “The Future We Want.” By next week, we’ll know if our politicians have lived up to that promise or once again bought into “The Future Exxon Wants,” a world where our tax dollars continue to get sucked up by the world’s richest corporations so that they can continue to profit from destroying the planet.

Jamie Henn is the Co-founder and Communications Director at 350.0rg. This piece was originally published at The Huffington Post and was reprinted with permission.

9 Responses to Countries Must End Fossil Fuel Subsidies At Rio+20

  1. Leif says:

    I have said it before but must say it again. Regular readers feel free to throw rocks. I will be on vacation for a month and out of the loop. Keep up the fight.

    Corporations, “People” now, can still pollute the commons for profit. I, a flesh and blood “people” cannot do that. If I throw a paper cup out the car window, bingo, ~$100 fine. Corpro/People are allowed to throw hundreds of pounds of toxic stuff out my tailpipe and amass multi-billions of $$$. You and I are even forced to subsidize the ecocide of the planet with our tax dollars without our consent, whereas the GOP do not fund abortion! Very strange.

    Think. How far will you get spitting 19 lbs./gal. of paper cups out the tailpipe, instead of toxins?

  2. M Tucker says:

    We are so far away from serious discussions on sustainability it is ridiculous. Since we have no bold leaders we will not get bold action and sustainability will remain nothing more than the catch-phrase is has been for about 20 years.

  3. Leif says:

    We cannot expect bold action until we learn to ask bold Questions.

  4. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, dismembering ff subsidies would be a step forward but seriously, we need a heap more than that. Given that the COPs have failed and current talks appear to be going nowhere very very slowly, Rio+20 may be one of our last opportunities to make a great leap forward before the real catastrophes start happening. Events such as the Pakistan and Queensland floods were just an appetizer.

    Incidentally, our Minister for the Environment was prevented from attending Rio by our opposition – not all dinosaurs are extinct, ME

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    George Monbiot, who is not completely barmy, yet, has an interesting take on Rio plus 20. One that can be confirmed by visiting the Third World Network and other sites where journalism, not concerted lying in the service of power, is still practised.
    Monbiot observes that ‘..the United States has savaged the Earth Summit’s Draft Declaration….The word ‘equitable’, the US insists, must be cleansed from the text. So must any mention of the right to food, water, health, the rule of law, gender equality and women’s empowerment. So must a clear target of preventing two degrees of global warming. So must a commitment to changing ‘ ..unsustainable consumption and production patterns’, and to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources.
    Most significantly the US delegation demands the removal of many of the foundations agreed by a Republican President in Rio in 1992. In particular, it has set out to purge all mention of the core principle of that Earth Summit: common but differentiated responsibilities. This means that while all countries should strive to protect the world’s resources, those with the most money and who have done the most damage should play a greater role’.
    Quite correctly, in my opinion, Monbiot describes these actions as ‘..petty, paranoid, unilateralist sabotage of international agreements..’. I’d add ‘vindictive’ and ‘absolutist’. All that remains is for the Western MSM lie-machine to paint the coming debacle as ‘all China’s fault’ (one can rely on The Guardian to lead the charge).
    So, after twenty years, the champion of ‘Hopium’ and ‘change’ says, ‘No, you can’t’, and is revealed, yet again, as more Rightwing and reactionary, more completely controlled by Big Business, even than GHW Bush. But all the Hope Fiends still intend to vote for him, because ‘Romney will be worse’. How could he possibly be worse? At least you’ll know where he stands, more or less, and not be expected to remove your brain every time he speaks with a forked tongue.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Merrelyn, please-what evidence do you have that any dinosaur was ever as vicious, hypocritical, villainous and deliberately destructive as these creatures? Please cease slandering the poor extinct blighters. Fortunately, the more wicked upright, uptight, upstart pseudo-hominids will shortly join them in oblivion.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, along with the rest of us. I keep waiting for the lightning bolts to evaporate the benches left of the Speaker and their absence so far has got me wondering about Zeus. In the meantime, may all dinosaur bones rest in peace well away from the proliferating bulldozers, ME

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thanks for this Mulga but I disagree about Romney. Given his very brave imitation of a bamboo stalk, there is almost no certainty about where he will stand when the rhetoric is forced into action, ME

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The bamboo analogy is regrettable, ME, because the Chinese use it as a compliment for the upright man who bends but does not break. I reckon ‘crooked timber of humanity’, a particularly twisted twig, might be better. I’m fair ‘din kum’ (another Chinese expression) about Obama, however.