Empty promises: G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production

Research reports and studies
November 2015
Elizabeth Bast, Alex Doukas, Sam Pickard, Laurie Van Der Burg and Shelagh Whitley

This research discovers that G20 country governments’ support to fossil fuel production marries bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for climate change. In effect, governments are propping up the production of oil, gas and coal, much of which cannot be used if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.

The report Empty promises: G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production documents, for the first time, the scale and structure of fossil fuel production subsidies in the G20 countries. The evidence points to a publicly financed bailout for some of the world’s largest, most carbon-intensive and polluting companies.

It finds that, by providing subsidies for fossil fuel production, the G20 countries are creating a ‘lose-lose’ scenario. They are directing large volumes of finance into high-carbon assets that cannot be exploited without catastrophic climate effects. This diverts investment from economic low-carbon alternatives such as solar, wind and hydro-power. In addition, the scale of G20 fossil fuel production subsidies calls into question the commitment of governments to an ambitious deal on climate change.

Country by country breakdown

How much is each G20 government subsidising fossil fuel exploration and production – and when it comes to moving towards phasing out subsidies, which are the leaders and the laggards?