Support for coal, oil and gas remains high despite pledges to tackle climate crisis

The G20 countries have provided more than $3.3tn (£2.4tn) in subsidies for fossil fuels since the Paris climate agreement was sealed in 2015, a report shows, despite many committing to tackle the crisis.

This backing for coal, oil and gas is “​​reckless” in the face of the escalating climate emergency, according to the report’s authors, and urgent action is needed to phase out the support. The $3.3tn could have built solar plants equivalent to three times the US electricity grid, the report says.

The G20 countries account for nearly three-quarters of the global carbon emissions that drive global heating.

The report, by BloombergNEF and Bloomberg Philanthropies, focuses on three areas where immediate action is needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C: ending fossil fuel subsidies, putting a price on carbon emissions and making companies disclose the risks posed by climate change to their businesses.

The report says all 19 G20 member states continue to provide substantial financial support for fossil-fuel production and consumption – the EU bloc is the 20th member. Overall, subsidies fell by 2% a year from 2015 to reach $636bn in 2019, the latest data available.

But Australia increased its fossil fuel subsidies by 48% over the period, Canada’s support rose by 40% and that from the US by 37%. The UK’s subsidies fell by 18% over that time but still stood at $17bn in 2019, according to the report. The biggest subsidies came from China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India, which together accounted for about half of all the subsidies.

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