Average fossil fuel subsidies in the world's richest countries have reached $112 per person, draining national treasuries while undermining international efforts to avert dangerous climate change, according to an influential think tank.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) will today publish a new report arguing that fossil fuel subsidy are costing the 34 OECD countries between $55bn and $90bn a year, with the highest level of subsidies in Russia, the United States, Australia, Germany and the UK.
The subsidy programmes take different forms, ranging from the €1.9bn of financial assistance Germany provided to its hard coal sector in 2011 to a $1bn fuel tax exemption for US farmers, and the £280m in tax concessions for oil and gas production provided by the UK in 2011. Earlier this year, campaign group Friends of the Earth revealed the UK government has handed oil and gas firms tax breaks worth nearly £1bn, despite its stated support for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
According to the International Energy Agency, global fossil fuel subsidies totalled $523bn in 2011 - almost six times the amount given to renewable energy.