Fossil fuels subsidized at six times the level of renewables

In its World Energy Outlook 2011 publication issued Wednesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) again focused attention on fossil fuel subsidies around the world, noting that in 2010, government subsidies to consumers of gasoline, coal and natural gas amounted to more than six times the amount spent on renewable energy.

The Paris-based agency, which collects energy data and advises the oil-importing nations on energy policy, pegged fossil fuel subsidies at $409 billion in 2010, up 36 percent from a year earlier. Renewable energy subsidies, it said, totaled $66 billion, up 10 percent.

Commented the IEA, ""There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is under way. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400bn (£250.7bn)."

The agency’s findings also indicate that a 2009 pledge by the Group of 20 (G20) nations to phase out subsidies for carbon-based fuels is still some distance from being fulfilled. According to the report, G20 nations spent $160 billion in 2010 in support of fossil fuels.

Tom Gray,