Removing fossil fuel subsidies would significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions within five years, according to research by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The report, Tackling Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Climate Change: Levelling the energy playing field, modeled the impact of removing fossil fuel subsidies in 20 countries between now and 2020. They found that this alone would reduce national emissions, against business as usual, by an average of 11 percent. By taking 30 percent of subsidy savings, and investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, national emissions are reduced further to an average of 18 percent by 2020. In total, from across just 20 countries by 2020, the report estimates that 2.8 Gt of CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere.
The estimated emission reductions vary significantly by country. Those countries with large fossil fuel subsidies, and which have the greatest potential for switching to cleaner and more efficient energy, would see the largest reductions.
The findings echo a 2013 International Monetary Fund report that found eliminating fossil fuel subsidies worth $1.9 trillion worldwide would reduce CO2 emissions by 4.2 billion tons — a 13 percent reduction — and produce “major gains” for economic growth.