Fight Climate Change by Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Fossil fuel costs are endless from their extraction to their environmental damage and pollution to the threats they produce to our health.

Target: Participating countries in the 2015 United Nations Convention on Climate Change

Goal: End massive subsidies for the fossil fuel industry that could be used to encourage clean energy.

In 2015, the fossil fuel industry will receive subsidies totaling $5.3 trillion, an astonishing 6.5 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product. A comprehensive study of energy subsidies by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shocked the people who researched and wrote it.

Proponents of fossil fuel use always argue that alternative energy sources like wind and solar are too expensive, but this IMF report calculates the staggering size of subsidies that keep fossil fuels paramount. The IMF report is part of a long term research project that, for the first time, calculates the true cost of using fossil fuels. It recommends eliminating these subsidies to generate “substantial environmental, fiscal and welfare benefits.”

The purpose of subsidies is to keep prices down. China used subsidies for a huge buildout of coal, but rapidly worsening air quality and spiking healthcare costs from polluted air motivated a sharp change into clean energy sources. China realized subsidies should not be used to encourage more fossil fuel consumption when the world desperately needs to phase them out. Subsidies should be used for clean alternatives that encourage people to get off fossil fuels. It is these subsidies that fossil fuel proponents in the United States are determined to phase out.

In the last five years, the costs of wind and solar power have plummeted and the long term trend in energy production is for solar and wind to grow cheaper and more competitive while fossil fuels which are more and more difficult to locate and extract, grow more expensive. The rising costs of climate-threatening fossil fuels require greater and greater subsidies to bring to market. It’s time to do what makes sense environmentally, fiscally and healthfully. End subsidies for polluting and climate change-producing fossil fuels.


Dear UNFCCC Member Nations,

The real costs of maintaining fossil fuels are astronomical and, in the face of climate change, incalculable. It’s time to end the subsidies that conceal the true cost of fossil fuels. They’re harder to locate and more complicated to extract. When there’s an accident, the very expensive cleanup can never restore a formerly pristine ecology. China has figured out that they don’t want to subsidize fossil fuels anymore because it encourages their use, deteriorates air quality, and creates health problems.

It’s absurd that the only energy subsidies under threat are for alternatives like wind and solar when we desperately need to encourage their use. The International Monetary Fund prepared a report on fossil fuel subsidies which, they said, stunned them at $5.3 trillion. The report concluded that eliminating these subsidies could generate “substantial environmental, fiscal and welfare benefits” and recommended that subsidies be dropped. A schedule for eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels should be on the agenda for this conference.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Petr Štefek

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  1. Cat Jefferson says:

    With so many ‘third world ‘ countries turning into ‘first world’ countries, copying the West and depending more and more upon fossil fuels, subsidies should be given to clean energy companies and development of clean energy, NOT to the extraction companies of fossil fuels. People have GOT to change and damned soon or the planet will not be habitable for the generation of children alive now!

  2. “The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future – deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease.” — The World Watch Institute

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