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Slow progress on cutting fossil fuel subsidies

Slow progress  on cutting fossil fuel subsidies

OSLO: Major nations are “alarmingly slow” in keeping pledges to cut fossil fuel subsidies despite signs of a decline in support worth up to $200 billion a year, the Organ­isation for Economic Cooper­ation and Develop­ment (OECD) said on Monday.

Reductions in damaging subsidies for oil, coal and natural gas would reduce air pollution, save cash and help a shift to greener energies before a Nov 30-Dec 11 UN summit in Paris on limiting climate change, it said.

“We are totally schizophrenic,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria told an online news conference. “We are trying to reduce emissions and we subsidise the consumption of fossil fuels” blamed for stoking global warming.

“Support for fossil fuels seems to have peaked, but global progress remains alarmingly slow,” he said of an updated inventory of subsidies.

The OECD estimated the annual value of subsidies for 2010-14 at between $160bn and $200bn, mostly for petroleum products, in the 34 OECD nations and China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and South Africa.

The Group of 20 leading economies agreed as long ago as 2009 to phase out inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.

“Support now seems to follow a downward trend after having peaked twice in 2008 and 2011-12,” the OECD said, without giving exact annual figures. It said that not all subsidies identified were “unambiguously inefficient.”

Published in Dawn, September 22nd , 2015

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