Clean Energy Transition Possible By Switching Just 10% Of Fossil Fuel Subsidy, Says Report

A recent research report published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) found that there can be a revolution in clean energy production if government and other organizations just switch some of the huge subsidies that are given to support fossil fuel projects. The report said that such a situation will lead to significant cut in carbon emissions which is responsible for the current global warming and consequent climate change.

The IISD report found the compared to support of $100bn for renewable energy projects, those based on coal, oil and gas get financial support if over $370bn a year. The report claimed that if authorities switch just 10% to 30% of those subsidies that are given to fossil fuel, the costs for transition to clean energy globally would be possible.

A section of policy makers, environmentalists and scientists have for long claimed that bringing an end to fossil fuel subsidies is critical for addressing the challenges of climate change. And despite some moves such as promise in 2009 by G20 nations of phasing out those subsidies,. There has been little progress made to that end.

“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,” the UN secretary general, António Guterres, had said in May this year criticizing fossil fuel subsidies.

Production process of clean energy would be significantly speeded up globally if just a fraction of the fossil fuel subsidy is transferred for projects supporting green energy, the report claimed.

“Almost everywhere, renewables are so close to being competitive that [a 10-30% subsidy swap] tips the balance, and turns them from a technology that is slowly growing to one that is instantly the most viable and can replace really large amounts of generation,” said Richard Bridle of the IISD. “It goes from being marginal to an absolute no-brainer.”

In many parts of the world however, projects for transition from fossil fuel energy to clean energy are already taking place. Since 2008, the annual investments made in development of infrastructure and production of clean energy has been greater than those made in fossil fuel electricity generation. At the same time, since 2014, the capacity for new installation for renewable energy production has surpassed that of fossil fuel power.

However, Bridle said that compared to the urgency required, the progress being made in this respect is quite slow. “There is no question that renewables can power the energy system,” he said. “The question now is can we transition quickly enough away from fuels like coal, and subsidy reform is a very obvious step towards that.” Very few ways of cutting emissions actually save governments money, he said.

“Taking away subsidies from fossil fuels and channelling them towards clean energy would boost their development at a much faster pace, and help secure our climate goals,” said Ipek Gençsü of the Overseas Development Institute. She added that social and economic benefits such as reduction in air pollution and consequent lower spending on health are some of the added benefits.

(Adapted from

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