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Tell World Leaders at Rio+20 to End Wasteful Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Frances Beinecke

Posted June 17, 2012 in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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From Detroit to Delhi, Barcelona to Boston, families are struggling to recover from the worst economic crisis in decades. Millions have lost their homes or face unemployment. And cuts in government spending have led to record layoffs, underfunded schools, and shuttered civic institutions.

Yet in the midst of unprecedented austerity, countries continue to hand over nearly $1 trillion to subsidize fossil fuels. That’s 12 times more that nations spend to support renewable energy from the sun, wind and other clean resources. The International Energy Agency expects governments to spend nearly three times more money subsidizing fossil fuels in 2012 than they did in 2009.

All nations need energy to power their economies, but lavishing precious taxpayer dollars on some of the dirtiest and richest corporations in the world undermines the security of our families.

Fossil fuels generate pollution that causes asthma, heart disease, and cancer. They also cause climate change—a force that is already unleashing extreme weather events and upending millions of lives. Not only do these hazards endanger us, but they also cost billions of dollars in damages and healthcare costs.

Right now we have an opportunity to start moving down a cleaner, safer path.

More than 130 presidents, prime ministers, and other top leaders are coming this week to  Riode Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Many of them have talked about ending fossil fuel subsidies, but few efforts have borne fruit.  If we call attention to these wasteful giveaways while the world is watching in Rio, we can push our leaders to take concrete steps to phase them out once and for all.

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Action to end fossil fuel subsidies, Rio de Janeiro. Photo credit: Credit Anthony Suen

People from around the world in unprecedented numbers are demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies. For Rio+20, the top issue identified in a global voting process was the need to end fossil fuel subsidies. And already more than 1 million people have signed a global petition launched by 350.org and Avaaz, and others towards this end. But NRDC and our partners aren’t stopping there.

For 24 hours on June 18, people around the world are going to raise their voices through tweets and urge governments to stop these handouts. Join NRDC and our partners on June 18 by sending a message amplified hundreds of thousands of times to #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

Leaders in Rio need to listen to this rising public call to action. We know we can energize our nations without propping up fossil fuel companies with taxpayer money. Not only can clean, renewable energy power our homes and businesses, but fossil fuel companies perform just fine without giveaways. A recent study found that even though Montana offers higher subsidies for production than North Dakota, those handouts don’t lead to greater intensity in drilling. Instead, the price of crude oil determines how much oil and gas companies produce, not subsidies.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency estimates that simply by phasing out the subsidies that encourage wasteful use of fossil fuels by 2020, we could cut carbon pollution by  around 6 percent—that’s equivalent to the carbon released by about 510,000,000 cars. 

It’s time our governments stop lining the pockets of wealthy corporations and start investing in clean energy technologies and other solutions that will strengthen our economies and our families.

Go to endfossilfuelsubsides.org or read NRDC’s new fact sheet and report on fossil fuels subsidies to learn more about this issue and how you can add your voice to the chorus demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies at the Rio+20 conference. Join us on June 18 in sending a clear message to #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

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About

Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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