With international negotiators currently engaged in climate talks and any prospects to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Centigrade vanishing rapidly, International Energy Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven has issued an urgent statement calling for swift and comprehensive action by all nations, including the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies.
That will be a tall order for the United States. Federal government subsidies to fossil fuels between 2002 and 2008 totaled about $72 billion. In 2011 alone, U.S. subsides to the oil, coal and gas industries were the highest of any nation at about $13.1 billion.
And that’s before you factor in the hidden Federal subsidies – exemptions from federal laws, compromised public health, pollution, and little things like aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and climate disruption.
And there’s yet another layer of subsidies heaped on the fossil fuel industry. Each year, state, county, and local governments dole out an incredible $80 billion of subsidies to companies in the name of economic development. The fossil fuel industry ranks a shocking third on the list of top recipients.
So much for the mythical free market.
Clearly, radical overhaul of emission reduction policies is needed immediately. As van der Hoeven says, “Without concerted action soon, the world is on track for a much warmer future with possibly dire consequences.”