Two for the Price of None

21 May 2012

Over the past week, we’ve heard discussions in a variety of forums here in Bonn on how to address the urgency of climate change by increasing emissions reductions and mo-bilizing enough climate finance to help fund the transition to a climate resilient future for all. Well, ECO has found just the source to help both of these efforts – end fossil fuel subsidies by 2015!

Let’s start by raising mitigation ambition. The UNFCCC re-ceived many submissions on raising ambition. 111 countries were represented in the sub-missions citing phasing out fossil fuel subsidies as a po-tential source of additional emission reductions repre-sent. And how often does that happen?

Perhaps all 111 countries saw the recent statements by the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, who said that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies could provide half of the emission reductions needed to stave off dangerous climate change between now and 2020. Now, because the devil is often in the details, phasing out these  government handouts could go a substantial way in helping close the gigatonne gap. The ambition work programme under the ADP would be well-served to include this in its deliberations.

Now, on to finance. Recent estimates show that fossil fuel subsidies in rich countries could be in the tens of billions of US dollars, to perhaps as much as $100 billion. How about, instead, governments spend that money to support climate change fighting efforts? ECO encourages delegates to include this in discussions of both short-term and long-term finance.

While we’re at it, let’s all make sure we’re talking about the same stuff.  The numbers quoted above are estimates, mainly because the data out there isn’t transparent enough to allow for more precise figures. But, wouldn't you know, the UNFCCC could provide just the tools to increase transparency in this area through its national communications and biennial reports.  And since so many UNFCCC parties want to remove these subsidies, why not report on their existence and efforts to remove them? Who doesn’t like taking credit for doing good things, after all?

ECO hopes parties here at the UNFCCC will take note of the multiple benefits of removing fossil fuel subsidies. ECO encourages delegates to speak to their colleagues in the G20 and Rio+20 negotiations as well, so that progress can be made wherever possible, in order to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2015.

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