After the quite encouraging news of Wednesday I would like to present you a study showing that the United States’ government still gives much more money to polluting fossil fuels industries rather than lower carbon solutions.
This occurs as I noted last year than to the UNEP cutting the subsidies given to big oil and coal companies would cut by up to six percent per year global greenhouse gases emissions.
I believe it is high time we globally stop giving $300 billion (200 billion euros) per year to these companies and fund any company working on low carbon alternatives and energy efficiency projects.
Back to the United States, the study notes that an important part of these sums ($16.8 billion over seven years) were allocated to ethanol projects, which are to me more a problem than a solution.
As TreeHugger noted :
“Subsidies to fossil fuels, a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years, totaled approximately $72 billion”
A new study (pdf) by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) reviewed fossil fuel and energy subsidies in the U.S. for fiscal years 2002 to 2008. It concludes, sadly but unsurprisingly, that fossil fuels are still getting a lot more help from the government than renewables despite the recent increases.
But what’s worse is that the majority of those subsidies and tax breaks are going to “sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases”, and many of the subsidies to renewables are going to controversial things like corn ethanol.
ELI writes: “The research demonstrates that the federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Fossil fuels benefited from approximately $72 billion over the seven-year period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled only $29 billion.
More than half the subsidies for renewables–$16.8 billion–are attributable to corn-based ethanol, the climate effects of which are hotly disputed. Of the fossil fuel subsidies, $70.2 billion went to traditional sources–such as coal and oil–and $2.3 billion went to carbon capture and storage, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
What particularly enrages me is that oil and gas companies already earn tons of money and don’t really need more money from our pockets… Indeed, which companies were making record profits when oil was around $140 per barrel ?
Couldn’t we fund research and development of electrical vehicles and renewables instead ? Isn’t it time to invest all this money in housing retrofits and similar projects ?
To exemplify, here are some calculations using the figures given in Sustainable energy – without the hot air: with $300 billion we could build approximately 140 GW of nuclear capacity or 200 GW of offshore wind….