You Can’t Feed Your Addiction and Break It, Too

While delegates will be discussing low emission development opportunities in today’s workshop, many of your countries are still feeding their tragic addiction to fossil fuels. You say you want to keep global warming below 2°C and to keep the door open for 1.5°C, but in fact you are consuming fossil fuels as if 4 degrees was the new 2 degrees.

The International Monetary Fund tells us thzat this addiction is costing your taxpayers USD 1.9 trillion each year in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry (FYI, for comparison, 1.9 trillion seconds is about 60,000 years!). As shown recently by the International Energy Agency, the result of this is a continuous rise of global carbon emissions each year, while we know that emissions should in fact peak well before 2015. 
 
The archaic, continued support for fossil fuels means that they remain artificially profitable and that low carbon alternatives such as renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are emerging much slower than they could. Let’s be honest here: you are not aiming for a 2°C world. No, in fact you are undermining the development of these low carbon opportunities, which could create local jobs and steer innovation. Instead you line the pockets of the fossil fuel dealers and encourage them to invest further in a 4+°C future. 
 
Just last year, the energy industry invested 674 billion dollars for more fossil fuels! However, the Carbon Tracker Initiative has shown that national governments and global markets have created a carbon bubble that will make the real estate bubble look like a blip. If Parties are really serious about avoiding dangerous climate change, nearly 70 percent of known reserves of oil, gas and coal must remain in the ground. Further investments in fossil fuels are locking us in to a carbon-intensive development pathway and making climate action more costly, while diverting investments from existing low cost low carbon solutions.
 
In ECO’s opinion, any new fossil fuel infrastructure puts our planet at risk. ECO therefore suggests that you stop being bipolar and start having a serious conversation here in Bonn about how to phase out fossil fuels subsidies. ECO has pointed out that this phasing out should not increase the vulnerability of people in developing countries and therefore must happen in developed countries first.
 
The ADP could develop ambitious pathways for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies in developed countries and identify options to shift those subsidies to additional mitigation activities (allowing higher pledges by developed countries). Imagine all that you can do with these savings from phasing out subsidies! You could use this money to support climate actions in developing countries! Or, at the very least, buy ECO some very nice birthday presents (green's our favourite colour).
 
For developing countries, the ADP could support work to carefully switch fossil fuel subsidies into supporting clean energy access and fostering sustainable development. The ADP could also identify and discuss ways for some developing countries to pursue fossil fuel subsidy phase-out as supported NAMAs.
 
Being conflicted over such a serious issue can’t be good for your mental health over the long term. Best resolve it now.
Related Newsletter : 

Time to #endfossilfuelsubsidies

Roaming in the halls of the QNCC, it’s not hard to hear the frustration from poorer countries lamenting the lack of climate finance.  The only thing louder is the excuses from the richer ones, saying the money is nowhere to be found.

Well, ECO has a solution!  A new analysis from Oil Change International shows that rich countries are spending more than 5 times as much on subsidizing fossil fuel companies than their climate finance pledges.
 
Just a quick perusal of the figures provides some shocking details.  Australia, for instance, has subsidized fossil fuels at a rate of 40 times more than their climate finance pledge.  The United States?  Their climate finance pledge is mere 20% of what they spend subsidizing the richest corporations in the world. That favorite Fossil country, Canada, spends nearly eight times as much subsidizing their beloved fossil fuel industry than they do supporting the most vulnerable.
 
So, when you hear that there’s no money to be found, now you, dear ECO reader, know exactly where to look!  Time to stop subsidizing the industry that is fueling the climate crisis and put that money to use fueling a safe future!  (And one place to start would be including fossil fuel subsidy phase out in the pre-2020 mitigation work programme…)
Related Newsletter : 

Ending the subsidy silence

Earlier this year, ECO was delighted to read submission upon submission referencing the potential for removing fossil fuel subsidies to contribute substantially to pre-2020 mitigation ambition. In fact, it was so exciting that we counted the countries represented by these submissions. Turns out, over 110 countries supported submissions calling on fossil fuel subsidy reform to be included as an option for raising mitigation ambition.

Well, Thursday morning it seemed as though many parties had forgotten about these submissions, only a few months after they were sent in. Despite hours of discussion, fossil fuel subsidies seemed to not have made it into the morning’s ADP workstream 2 discussions.
 
Fortunately, not all countries have fully forgotten this issue, though, and yesterday afternoon’s ADP session provided some hope. ECO would like to thank the Philippines, Costa Rica and Switzerland for recognizing this important opportunity for additional pollution reductions.  (ECO would also note rumours that the US and Mexico referred to fossil fuel subsidy reform in other sessions in recent days as well).
 
The IEA has told us that removing fossil fuel subsidies could close the mitigation gap by nearly one half between existing pledges and what’s needed by 2020 to put us on a path to limit global warming to 2 degrees.  
 
Of course, ending fossil fuel subsidies is not going to be easy, but the first step is to recognize the potential and begin the work. Rich countries should end their subsidies to producers first, and as quickly as possible. Developing countries should be supported in developing plans to remove their subsidies for fossil fuels in such a way that ensures protections for the poor as well as  improvements in access to energy.
 
It’s been over 3 years since the G20 and APEC countries agreed to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and the Rio conference on sustainable development earlier this year also pointed to fossil fuel subsidy reform.  The ADP can help push these efforts further by acknowledging fossil fuel subsidy reform as a means to achieve greater pre-2020 mitigation ambition.
Related Newsletter : 

CAN Intervention in the COP18 SBSTA Opening Plenary, 26 November

 

SBSTA Opening Plenary Intervention

26 November, 2012

 

Mr. Chair, Distinguished Delegates, 

My name is Adriana Gonzalez from Puerto Rico and I am representing Climate Action Network.  

Parties must ensure that climate policies encompassing agriculture include considerations and safeguards that protect and promote food security, biodiversity, equitable access to resources, the right to food, animal welfare, and the rights of indigenous peoples and local populations, while promoting poverty reduction and climate adaptation. 

Towards this end, SBSTA should facilitate the exchange of views among Parties on, among numerous other things: 

· Assessing existing adaptation policies to ensure they are designed to avoid aggravating existing inequalities and to support the most vulnerable. 

SBSTA’s recommendations to COP18 for REDD+ on Monitoring and on Measuring, Reporting and Verification must ensure sustainability and permanence of emissions reductions. Building further consensus on reference levels, safeguards information systems and how to address drivers of deforestation is critical for ensuring that REDD delivers benefits for the climate, forests and peoples. 

Finally, countries continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidizing fossil fuels each year. SBSTA should ensure its reporting guidelines for biennial reports include guidance to report on the existence of and efforts to remove these subsidies, to facilitate the removal of these harmful subsidies. 

Thank you. 

Fossil of the Day awards for ALL governments for agreeing a future we DON'T want

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award 
was today given to ALL governments attending the Rio+20 summit. NGOs 
reacted to the adoption of a shockingly weak outcome text applauded by 
all governments in the plenary this morning, pointing out that - 
contrary to the document's title - the agreement did NOT reflect the 
future they want.

The text of today's Fossil award reads as follows:

"For the first time ever, yesterday, we awarded Big Oil a Fossil of the 
day - and the Fossil itself became the target of a protest by some angry 
billionaire CEO’s.

Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil 
to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up, Canada for 
tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The 
United States and Japan, for weilding the literal and metaphorical 
delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon, and the other Big Oil 
states for weakening language on subsidies and trying their best to cut 
the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn’t feel like 
that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook.

The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure. Yet all governments have 
applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand 
success.

This is NOT the future we want, if anything this is the future that big 
polluters have bought.

With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable 
development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue 
to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry - 
yet here in Rio they’ve all come up with empty pockets. The first step 
is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the 
planet, and like I said, that's just the first step. There is still 
miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having 
the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future.

Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has 
had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, 
this fossil is for every single nation here, and for all the world 
leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to 
sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.

There are 3 days left here in Rio, and without a change this summit 
will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders 
who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of 
destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, Heads of 
State and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole 
world is watching, the planet is burning, and they are holding matches."

 

 

The Public is Clear: End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Negotiations here at Rio+20 appear to have come to a standstill.  Member states can’t seem to agree to much of anything; the multilateral process, intended to promote ‘cooperation, compromise and dialogue’, has turned into a frantic scramble to produce ‘some’ nay ‘any’ kind of tangible outcome of the conference. So far, ‘compromise’ has meant the deletion of entire paragraphs of text that countries have been unable to agree upon.  There is a real threat here that this enormous global opportunity could be wasted.

At this crucial moment delegations would do well to take heed to civil society groups, who have had no trouble coming to consensus on some of the most important outcomes from this summit, namely ending the nearly $1 trillion annual subsidy for fossil fuels.

Over the last several weeks thousands of people around the world have voted online for their sustainable development priorities as part of the Rio-Dialogues process.  The No.1 response was “take concrete steps to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.” In the lead up to Rio, Avaaz.org, 350.org and many others collected over a million signatures against these regressive handouts and yesterday on Twitter #endfossilfuelsubsidies was a top trending topic worldwide; while hundreds of youth and their allies marched through the Rio Centro complex to highlight that incentives for atmospheric pollution and outdated technologies are not part of the future we want. 

 The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as part of its Vision 2050 report, said that by 2020 governments must “remove subsidies that encourage over-consumption and resource degradation.”   The Trade Union Assembly on Labour and the Environment, held last week, articulated a very different vision than the business community on many issues.  However, the two groups agreed on the importance of “fair and environmentally-sound tax policies” with labor calling for a “just transition” away from fossil fuel dependency.  Over 170 NGOs have co-signed a letter calling for a socially equitable phase out.  Similar calls have been made by other major groups for the scientific and technological community, youth and women , to name just a few.

Yet, despite all of this, over the past few days the text on subsidies has gotten increasingly weaker.  We must ask why.  One explanation is that civil society has not been given an appropriate space to voice the importance of this issue.  In an attempt to move these negotitations forward, the Brazilian government took energy negotiations behind closed doors at the beginning of the prepcom.  They facilitated discussions that included only a few key states and no representatives from civil society.  While this could be seen as a pragmatic move, ECO must dissent.  Fossil fuel subsidies are clearly a critical issue for civil society globally and must be brought into the center of deliberations in the coming days. Bringing in more voices, particularly those who have already come to consensus across ideological divides, enhances the credibility and productive potential of this process.

The Brazilian Presidency and the UNCSD have an enormous opportunity but they need to act fast.  By bringing fossil fuel subsidy reform into the heart of negotiations they can demonstrate a commitment to responsive leadership,and to the global mandate they have received.  This would significantly improve the actual and perceived legitimacy of this process and would be an important first step toward advancing a more ambitious agenda.

There are no guarantees that subsidy reform will make it into a final text.  However, there is a strong case to made that by discussing it openly we can find language acceptable to all parties. For example, it appears that some countries are worried that a phase out would undermine their ability to develop or would create a domestic political backlash.  These concerns can be assuaged by discussion that includes actors like Switzerland, Costa Rica or Ethiopia.  These delegations will surely be happy to talk about how their countries have removed perverse energy incentives and found more effective ways to protect the poor and reinvest in projects that drive positive feedbacks for sustainable development.  Civil Society groups can offer enormous insight based on their research and experience in affected communities.

We have an important choice to make.  We can continue grasping at straws over issues that are stuck in the mud or we can directly tackle one of the largest obstacles to achieving a green economy that alleviates poverty and strengthens opportunities for development.  Civil society has provided a path, now leaders need to take it.

Related Newsletter : 

Shell, Exxon Mobil, Petrobras, Chevron and BP Given First Ever “Corporate” Fossil

 

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award broke protocol today to award a special fossil to big oil and their friends. The award is a recognition of the back room, dirty tactics that the fossil fuel industry and lobby has used here in Rio and for years to block progress on climate change and sustainable development. 

The corporations were also singled out for being some of the biggest recipients of the nearly $1 trillion in subsidies handed out each year to big polluters. The award comes on the eve of a corporate business event including a session entitled "Fossil Fuels and Sustainability" that features representatives of Petrobras, BP and Shell. The text of the Fossil Award read as follows:

Today's fossil award is an extra special one, a never before seen or heard of Fossil of the Day...a Fossil First here in Rio.

The recipients of this Fossil have for years stood in the shadows, and in the way of real progress on climate change and sustainable development. Around the globe they are the worlds largest climate criminals, responsible for spilling millions of barrels of oil in the natural world, and dumping billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Let's get a (oil) drumroll please for today's Fossils! Those big bad polluters!

Shell! Exxon-Mobil! BP! Chevron! and a special Brazilian Rio Fossil for our sponsors here at Rio+20 Petrobras!  Honorable mention goes to all the oil barons, king coals and gas giants around the globe! Our top four recipients collectively made nearly $140 billion dollars in 2011, all while working against the adoption of strong, ambitious climate legislation in countries around the globe, digging deeper into dirty energy. All four are major players in the tar sands and part of a new rush to develop oil in the Arctic - despite their roles in major disasters like the Deepwater Horizon, the Kalamazoo river spill, the Exxon Valdez and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, and they're all part of that prestigious trillion dollar club, recipients of massive polluter handouts.

Petrobras gets a special spot for coming on as a sponsor of Rio+20 while trying to break the resistance of fishermen of Rio’s Bahia de Guanabara with violence. The fishermen have been struggling to defend their livelihoods against Petrobras’ oil spills.

The Fossil of the Day ceremony was also the target of a mock protest by "Billionaires for Subsidies", a group of youth drawing attention to the influence of big polluters here in Rio and on climate progress around the globe. The fossil fuel companies were targetted for attempting to hijack the agenda in Rio, but also for lobbying to weaken climate commitments for governments around the world. 

Shell, Exxon Mobil, Petrobras, Chevron and BP Given First Ever “Corporate” Fossil

Award given for lifetime commitment to blocking progress on climate and environmental protection

Rio de Janeiro - In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award broke protocol today to award a special fossil to big oil and their friends. The award is a recognition of the back room, dirty tactics that the fossil fuel industry and lobby has used here in Rio and for years to block progress on climate change and sustainable development. 

The corporations were also singled out for being some of the biggest recipients of the narly $1 trillion in subsidies handed out each year to big polluters. The award comes on the eve of a corporate business event including a session entitled "Fossil Fuels and Sustainability" that features representatives of Petrobras, BP and Shell. The text of the Fossil Award read as follows:

Today's fossil award is an extra special one, a never before seen or heard of Fossil of the Day...a Fossil First here in Rio.

The recipients of this Fossil have for years stood in the shadows, and in the way of real progress on climate change and sustainable development. Around the globe they are the worlds largest climate criminals, responsible for spilling millions of barrels of oil in the natural world, and dumping billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the aptmosphere.

Let's get a (oil) drumroll please for today's Fossils! Those big bad polluters!

Shell! Exxon-Mobil! BP! Chevron! and a special Brazilian Rio Fossil for our sponsors here at Rio+20 Petrobras!  Honorable mention goes to all the oil barons, king coals and gas giants around the globe! Our top four recipients collectively made nearly $140 billion dollars in 2011, all while working against the adoption of strong, ambitious climate legislation in countries around the globe, digging deeper into dirty energy. All four are major players in the tar sands and part of a new rush to develop oil in the Arctic - despite their roles in major disasters like the Deepwater Horizon, the Kalamazoo river spill, the Exxon Valdez and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, and they're all part of that prestigious trillion dollar club, recipients of massive polluter handouts.

Petrobras gets a special spot for coming on as a sponsor of Rio+20 while trying to break the resistance of fishermen of Rio’s Bahia de Guanabara with violence. The fishermen have been struggling to defend their livelihoods against Petrobras’ oil spills.

The Fossil of the Day ceremony was also the target of a mock protest by "Billionaires for Subsidies", a group of youth drawing attention to the influence of big polluters here in Rio and on climate progress around the globe. The fossil fuel companies were targetted for attempting to hijack the agenda in Rio, but also for lobbying to weaken climate commitments for governments around the world. 

How to Finance the Green Economy? End Polluter Handouts.

It comes as little surprise that some of the biggest sticking points in this Rio+20 process concern on Means of Implementation. There have been numerous proposals for ambitious new goals, but what good are they if there is no new funding provided? Securing stable funds for development is always a challenge, but it seems particularly difficult at Rio due to the current stress on western economies following the financial crisis.

With painful cuts being made at home, how can these countries be expected to commit money to programs that will have only indirect benefits for their own citizens? The challenge is daunting and it drives much of the cynicism that surrounds Rio+20 both in the media and in quiet conversations at Rio Centro.

This cynicism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but as Mr. Sha has reminded the conference “failure is not an option.” ECO agrees, funding for sustainable development must be found. And we have a suggestion.

Over a million global citizens have already thrown their support behind this incredibly obvious solution: stop giving money away to polluters. Nearly $1 trillion is spent on fossil fuel subsidies each year. If countries are at all serious about tackling the challenges of sustainable development, these subsidies are the first thing that needs to go.

The window for action on climate is closing, yet we're still pouring public money into this deadly industry. Rich nations claim austerity and continue spending billions in subsidies to oil, gas, and coal producers. You can't build a green economy on a dirty foundation.

Fossil fuel consumption subsidies, primarly in developing countries, also do not generally help the poor. the IEA has shown that only about 8% of consumer subsidies go towards the poorest 20%. And numerous reports have shown that fossil fuel subsidies are ineffective ways to promote energy access or provide social safety nets.

Clearly, this trillion dollars of dirty money could be better spent and should be viewed by delegates as one of the best sources of alternative finance.

Related Newsletter : 

Pages

Subscribe to Tag: fossil fuel subsidies