International Energy Agency targets fossil fuel subsidies

In its World Energy Outlook 2011 publication issued Wednesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) again focused attention on fossil fuel subsidies around the world, noting that in 2010, government subsidies to consumers of gasoline, coal and natural gas amounted to more than six times the amount spent on renewable energy.

The Paris-based agency, which collects energy data and advises the oil-importing nations on energy policy, pegged fossil fuel subsidies at $409 billion in 2010, up 36 percent from a year earlier. Renewable energy incentives, it said, totaled $66 billion, up 10 percent.

Commented the IEA, ""There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is under way. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400bn (£250.7bn)."

The agency's findings also indicate that a 2009 pledge by the Group of 20 (G20) nations to phase out subsidies for carbon-based fuels is still some distance from being fulfilled.  According to the report, G20 nations spent $160 billion in 2010 in support of fossil fuels.

More reading:

National lab report: Wind turbine prices drop as designs improve, U.S. supply chain develops, November 1, 2011
Forecast for wind: Storm clouds ahead without stable tax policy, October 31, 2011
Wind incentives: Leveling the playing field, August 17, 2011
New report gives best 'apples to apples' picture to date of federal support for all energy sources, September 23, 2011
AWEA statement: EIA studies on energy incentives distort value of spending on wind energy, July 26, 2011
1st IEA Clean Energy Progress Report: Continued fossil fuel dominance poses political, environmental risks, April 8, 2011
IEA: Shift fossil subsidies to renewable energy, November 22, 2010 

Stay informed

Take Action

Subscribe to the American Clean Power blog and receive the latest renewable energy news, policy updates, and opportunities to get involved.