UK set to be the only G7 country to increase subsidies to fossil fuels – oh dear!

Cameron Fossil

What a surprise – the Tory government lied about their intentions concerning climate change. After David Cameron hugged huskies, pledging to run the ‘greenest government ever’, and George Osborne told climate campaigners “If I become chancellor, the treasury will become a green ally, not a foe” [1] it seems they have stopped caring again and started going about their usual conservative business.

 

In a report[2] entitled “Empty Promises: G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production” the Overseas Development Institute and Oil change International provide details about how in the years 2013, and 2014 the UK government spent just under £9.7 billion pounds on fossil fuel subsidies- £6 billion domestically (mostly to foreign- owned companies), and £3.7 billion to support fossil fuel production overseas. This is in stark contrast to the £3.5 billion spent on renewable energy subsidies.
The report goes on to outline how other G20 countries financially support fossil fuel production- stating that subsidies for fossil fuels by these countries is more than four times the global amount of subsidies provided for renewable energy.

 

Renewable energy production is still in dire need of subsidies. Even though the low carbon technology itself is starting to become cheaper at the point of sale, our world currently runs on an infrastructure built for a world running on fossil fuels- a good example of this being challenges faced by producers of battery powered cars. Even though the technology (the cars) itself is present, the battery life limitations mean that battery powered cars have to be charged frequently on long trips – something which is difficult in a world full of gas stations (which can be further apart than these charging stations would have to be)[3].

 

On top of this, the Conservatives have announced plans to increase subsidies for fossil fuel production by a further £1.7 billion pounds (paid for by the taxpayer, of course) – making the UK the only G7 country to actually increase its support for the industry. At the same time it has been announced that subsidies for renewable energy sources will be cut [4].

 

Considering all this, it will be intriguing to observe what approach the UK government will take at the climate talk in Paris next month [5]. I’m also intrigued what the ultimate plan is – climate change is not something that will go away if you ignore it enough; as has been shown by the fact that climate-refugees already exist[6], and by the fact that earlier this week it was announced that global average temperatures are, on average, 1 degree Celsius higher than at pre- industrial levels[7]. Is this willful ignorance on the part of the Tories in favour of corporate interests or something even more sinister?

 

References

[1] – http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/energy/2015/10/conservatives-have-forgotten-greatest-challenge-all-climate-change
[2] – http://www.odi.org/publications/10058-production-subsidies-oil-gas-coal-fossil-fuels-g20-broken-promises
[3] – http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-07-23/electric-cars-will-catch-on-just-a-matter-of-timing
[4] – http://linkis.com/www.bbc.co.uk/news/YY2Yd
[5] – http://unfccc.int/meetings/paris_nov_2015/meeting/8926.php
[6] –
http://www.climaterefugees.com/
[7] – http://www.iflscience.com/environment/average-global-temperature-set-pass-1-c-warming-first-time

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