German inaction in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies causes consternation worldwide

German inaction in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies causes consternation worldwide

Environmental NGOs are getting furious and impatient with the clear lack of ambition that many countries have demonstrated in their current plans to phase out fossil fuels. Apart from the COP23 climate negotiations that ended amid a general sense of confusion on who should do what in the fight against global warming, there was deep consternation regarding Germany’s self-evaluation report on its fossil fuel subsidies published last week.

Despite the fact that G20 and G7 countries have pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, Germany has continued its support during 2014-2016, amounting to an average of 36 billion euros per year in subsidies to fossil fuel producers and consumers according to a report published in September by Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe – or an average of more than 46 billion euros according to a report by GBE’s parent organisation, Green Budget Germany. For the time being, Germany plans to end only two subsidies, which are required to be phased out under EU rules on coal mining.

According to Oil Change International, a civil society organisation following the topic, Germany does not even list the largest and worst subsidies that benefit the production of hard coal and lignite. “Its continued subsidies to fossil fuel production undermine international climate goals. Germany cannot be a climate leader, while continuing to subsidise fossil fuels”, says Alex Doukas, Stop Funding Fossils Program Director at Oil Change International.

As to Green Budget Europe (GBE), it will continue its efforts to tackle these problems. According to Eero Yrjö-Koskinen, its recently appointed new Director, GBE is currently implementing a two-year project to end diesel subsidies in a selection of countries, in the first instance in Germany, Great Britain, Hungary and Spain. These diesel subsidies were an important item of the so-called Jamaica-coalition-talks, intending to form a government in Germany. However, no consensus on their phase-out could be reached before talks failed.

“In addition, we are planning to launch a new campaign on how to promote circular and low carbon economy objectives through environmental fiscal reform in Europe. We are also currently negotiating about a two-year project, which aims at reconciling the future EU budget with its international pledges on climate change and sustainable development”, says Yrjö-Koskinen.

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