G20 coal subsidies more than double in just three years

25th June 2019

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Sinead Thom

Government support for the production of coal-fired power more than doubled between 2014 and 2017 in G20 countries, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has revealed today.

The ODI said in a report that annual spending increased from $17.2bn (£13.5bn) to nearly $47.3bn over the three years, despite G20 governments committing to phase out fossil fuel subsidies back in 2009.

And this rises to $63.9bn when factoring in support for the consumption of coal, with this likely to be a “significant underestimate“ as many measures are difficult to identify and quantify.

The report comes ahead of a G20 leaders summit in Japan later this week, with their respective countries accounting for around 79% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“It has now been 10 years since the G20 committed to phasing out subsidies to fossil fuels, yet astonishingly some governments are actually increasing the amount they give to coal power plants,“ report lead author, Ipek Gen√ßs√º, said.

“Momentum is growing around for governments to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.“

The report reveals how $28bn of annual coal subsidies are spent through public finance institutions like export credit agencies, with $15bn spent through budget allocations and tax exemptions, and $21bn invested in state-owned enterprises.

It shows how Japan – the hosts of this week's G20 summit – spends at least $5bn a year on coal overseas, despite prime minister Shinzo Abe urging other countries to step up their climate action.

China continues to fund coal abroad with around $10bn of international public finance, while India's banking system spends around $11bn internally on support for coal.

And although the UK has done more than most to phase out coal in recent years, the government still denies that it provides subsidies, despite evidence to the contrary.

The report calls on G20 leaders to agree a complete phase out of support for coal at this week's summit, for peer reviews on fossil fuel subsidies by 2020, and urges countries' to ensure a 'just transition' for workers.

“Ending subsidies to coal would bring environmental, social and economic benefits to all and help set a level playing field for clean energy, Gen√ßs√º added.

Image credit: iStock


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