G20 Lavish $71.8B Per Year on Fossil Projects, Four Times Their Renewables Investment
G20 public finance institutions and multilateral development banks poured US$71.8 billion per year into fossil projects between 2013 and 2015, four times the amount they devoted to renewable energy, according to a report released Wednesday by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth U.S., the U.S. Sierra Club, and the WWF European Policy Office.
“The G20 still hasn’t put its money where its mouth is when it comes to the clean energy transition,” said Oil Change Senior Campaigner Alex Doukas. “If other G20 governments are serious about standing up to Trump’s climate denial and meeting their commitments under the Paris agreement, they need to stop propping up the outdated fossil fuel industry with public money.”
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Over the three years covered by the study, China invested $13.5 billion in fossil fuels, against only $85 million in renewables, The Guardian notes. Germany spent $3.5 billion on fossil energy, $2.4 billion on renewables. Britain’s numbers were $972 million versus $172 million.
“It’s unconscionable that any nation would continue to waste public funds on fossil fuels when clean energy sources are readily available, more cost-effective, and healthier for families and communities across the globe,” said Sierra Club campaigner Nicole Ghio.
The total figure for public finance included $13.5 billion to explore for new oil, gas, and coal reserves, Bloomberg adds—even though, as Oil Change notes in a release, 85% of known fossil reserves must stay in the ground to meet the emission reduction goals in the Paris agreement.
“G20 leaders may like to talk about climate, but it’s clear their talk is cheap,” said Friends of the Earth international policy analyst Kate DeAngelis. “While praising each other for investing in renewable energy at home, they bankroll billions of dollars for dirty fossil fuel projects in developing countries. G20 leaders’ handouts to fossil fuel companies destroys the health of people and the planet. G20 countries must commit to transitioning from brown to green, once and for all.”
The report concludes that public finance for fossil development “has a three-pronged effect on efforts to address climate change,” the Oil Change release notes. “First, it acts as a ‘negative carbon price’ that helps to subsidize and incentivize more fossil fuel production. Second, it helps drive high-carbon lock-in, making the transition to clean energy more difficult and costly. Third, this public finance makes uneconomical dirty energy economical, thereby enabling ‘zombie energy’ projects that would never even begin operating without such support.”
The Guardian notes that the International Monetary Fund has calculated global fossil fuel subsidies at more than $10 million per minute. Yet the G20 has still not set a deadline for phasing out subsidies, and the prospects of a decision at this week’s summit in Hamburg are slim to nil.