G20 Issue Brief: Phasing Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies, February 2017

It is estimated that fossil fuel subsidies contributed up to 36% of global emissions between 1980 and 2010, while also exacerbating health problems, air and water local pollution. Limiting their use is a key step towards reducing inequality and achieving inclusive growth, since fossil fuel subsidies disproportionately benefit the middle and upper classes. Fossil fuel subsidies constitute an inefficient use of scarce public funds, and inhibit the market penetration of price-competitive renewables. While subsidies more broadly can be used as an effective tool to support the poor and promote a particular industry for the benefit of larger good, an industry that is well-established should not be the beneficiary of limited public resources, especially when cost-effective and healthier alternatives are available.

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