Government Subsidies of Fossil Fuels Outdo Renewable Subsidies 6 to 1

Friday, February 10, 2012
(photo: Greenpeace)

 It’s no contest between gas and oil on one end and renewable energy sources on the other when it comes to government subsidies.

According to a detailed report by the International Energy Agency, the world’s nations in 2010 spent $409 billion on subsidizing the production and consumption of fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, the amount spent helping solar, wind and biofuels was $66 billion.
Coal companies alone outpaced alternative energy providers, enjoying $91 billion in subsidies. Big Oil received $193 billion in government support.
Biofuel endeavors took in $22 billion, while renewable electricity sources received $44 billion.
The report notes that in the United States “Fossil fuels make up about 85% of US primary energy supply, a relatively high share by OECD standards. Oil is the leading fuel, accounting for 37% of supply, followed by natural gas (25%) and coal (22%). Nuclear power contributes a further 1%, with renewables–mainly biomass–making up the remaining 5%....Oil and gas production is fully in the hands of private enterprises, even though about four-fifths of the country’s recoverable resources are on federal land or in federally controlled offshore waters.”
The report also highlights the fact that although the coal industry is entirely privately owned, “Significant deposits lie on federal lands in the west, which are leased out to mining companies. The three largest coal producers account for 40% of total coal production, with the top producer, Peabody Energy, alone accounting for 18%.”
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Dirty Money (by Matthew Yglesias, Slate)
Energy Subsidies (Google Docs)


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