One of the most perverse aspects of current government policy on climate change is how we continue to subsidize the problem. Around the world, countries spend up to $775 billion a year aiding the exploration, production, and consumption of fossil fuels at a time when we know we need to use less, not more.
A new report from the Overseas Development Institute looks at one piece of this strange situation–exploration–and you can see some of its findings summarized in the graphics here. The ODI says the world’s largest 20 nations alone spend $88 billion a year supporting efforts to secure supplies–which, in fact, is roughly double what private companies spend on the same.
The London-based think-tank arrives at that number by including spending by state-owned companies ($49 billion), direct spending and tax breaks ($23 billion) and finance from banks and financial institutions ($16 billion) like the World Bank. The U.S. spent $5.1 billion in national subsidies in 2013, about double the level of 2009.
The map here shows spending in other countries around the world:
The ODI points out this breaks a commitment by G20 countries in 2009 to phase out public support for fossil fuels. It also flies in the face of research showing that we need to leave up to two-thirds of proven reserves in the ground if we’re to meet international agreements to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.
Says Shelagh Whitley, one of the authors of the report: “In the context of climate change, it is unbelievable that these governments are subsidizing looking for these reserves when we can’t burn them.”