Ending the subsidy silence

30 November 2012

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.

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