It’s a flurry of activity here at COP21. As the scheduled talks near their completion, parties, activists and press are packing into the Le Bourget conference center to lobby for their key issues to make it into the final draft of the declaration.
The Wi-Fi in the press center has slowed to a standstill, but I’ve found a small lounge chair between Angola’s office and the bathroom that has remarkably strong connectivity. And it’s from here that I’m moved to share a key financing issue which hasn’t gotten nearly enough play in the press coverage of these talks: fossil fuel subsidies!
Much virtual ink has been spilled on the costs of adaptation and the limited ability of the least developed nations to manage the impacts. The U.S. has been lauded for doubling its $400 million contribution to the Green Climate Fund, but out of its dirtier, more malevolent pocket, it funded the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $13 billion in 2015. While $400 million can buy a lot of climate mitigation and recovery, it’s not going to go very far if the government is spending 32 times that amount to further the very industry that is causing the problem in the first place.
It’s not just in the U.S. that fossil fuel subsidies are much higher than they should be. In fact, a staggering $436 billion in subsidies is now being spent to prop up an old dirty industry that is smack dab in the middle of destroying the livelihoods of millions of individuals around the world.
Sometimes these numbers are so big they lose their meaning. The infographic below describes what $436 billion looks like in real world terms: