Switch fossil fuel subsidies to renewables to trigger clean energy revolution

Switching fossil fuel subsidies to support renewables could unleash a clean energy revolution and propel the decarbonisation of the global economy, according to a new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

Despite G20 nations pledging every year since 2009 to phase out unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies, they continue to far outstrip equivalent support for renewable resources.

Much of this subsidy is concentrated in prominent oil-producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia, and coal-using countries, such as Indonesia, which caps the cost of the fuel at 75 per cent of the market rate, the study shows. Such findings echo those of a recent REN21 report, which showed 112 nations subsidise fossil fuel prices.

The study shows that a 30 per cent swap to renewables would trigger an emissions reduction of between 11 and 18 per cent. It adds to a growing sense of urgency around the issue, which was highlighted by UN secretary general António Guterres in May. “What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money – which means our money – to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word: to destroy the world,” he said at the time.