Tuesday, August 08, 2017

This Is a Bad Habit the World Needs to Quit

It sucks up 6.5 per cent of global GDP and it's a giveaway to the guys who are ruining our planet for future generations.

Five trillion dollars a year. That's how much world governments pony up in fossil fuel subsidies.

Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences.

Second, fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives.

A study was just published in the journal World Development that quantifies the amount of subsidies directed toward fossil fuels globally, and the results are shocking. The authors work at the IMF and are well-skilled to quantify the subsidies discussed in the paper.

Let’s give the final numbers and then back up to dig into the details. The subsidies were $4.9 tn in 2013 and they rose to $5.3 tn just two years later. According to the authors, these subsidies are important because first, they promote fossil fuel use which damages the environment. Second, these are fiscally costly. Third, the subsidies discourage investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy that compete with the subsidized fossil fuels. Finally, subsidies are very inefficient means to support low-income households.

How much of your money did Sideshow Steve Harper slip to Canada's fossil fuelers? How much is Justin forking over?


bill said...

It took thirty years after ww2 to plant the seeds and grow neoliberalism so that it dominated the world for the last thirty years. this was accomplished by taking a page from mein kampf which read tell a lie make it a big lie, tell it often and loud until it becomes the truth. But like all lies the truth eventually emerges.
The main focus of neoliberalism is to divert as much of the budgets of governments into private hands which is the wealth of the working class in the form of taxes. The primary tool is endless forms of subsidization to private business in the name of creating jobs even though it is impossible for a government to create any job other than directly hiring a new employee.

the solution is simple. End all subsidies whether to resource companies, corporations and even things like stadiums for professional sports. Capitalism is a wonderful thing. If there is a need for a product or service, someone will find a way to profit from providing it without government help.

Now for a giggle. Imagine a political debate if no one can mention job creation. Imagine the conservatives or liberals both of whom promise balanced budgets in their core agendas talk to their base of voters. Finally imagine the Green Party or ndp having to come up with some sort of comprehensible platform that isn't job creation based.

gotta find some humour in this mess somehow.

The Mound of Sound said...

Are you thinking "gallows humour" Bill?

bill said...

actually more tar and feathers. I keep thinking abut harper promising an instant balanced budget to his home riding then saying all we have to do is reduce oil subsidies.

a great example of business subsidies is when the caterpillar workers in London ont. refused to take a 50% wage cut and 200 jobs moved to Indiana because a certain governor pence paid 1 million dollars a job to bring them there. last I read the 60 jobs left went down south to a higher bidder. if you google faro, Yukon or arsenic in Yellowknife that is the tip of the iceberg that governments are paying for abandoned mines in the north added to incredible subsidies while they were operating we have already paid more than double of all the wages earned in the whole industry out of taxpayer dollars not counting the billions yet to come. then of course there is mount polly and the whole oil industry and mining industry in the rest of the country...

Lorne said...

Evil is the only word to describe these subsidies, Mound, yet only a small part of the larger evil called neoliberalism.

The Mound of Sound said...

I have reluctantly become convinced, Lorne, that our leaders cling to the orthodoxy of neoliberalism with its trappings of market fundamentalism and globalism because they're looking for the 'next big thing' to come along only that continuum of a chain of economic models dating back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has run its course. Staring us in the face now is the end of perpetual, exponential growth, the promised immortality of neoliberalism. We've driven our civilization into something of a wall that's overcrowded, overheated and, in terms of resources, exhausted. Thirty or forty years ago we got to the point of resorting to sleight of hand, economic parlour tricks to keep going and here we are with a rapidly degrading environment and an unsustainable economy that is succumbing to its own weight.

The IMF and the World Bank now admit that neoliberalism is a failed experiment that drives inequality and destabilizes nations and their economies. Yet who in Ottawa or Washington or London pays these warnings any heed? Nobody has the courage to stop and recalibrate our future. Perhaps they realize that would mean a wholesale overhaul of our primary modes of organization - social, economic, industrial, environmental and, yes, political. There's enough scientific clarity to know that their recalcitrance is quite possibly nihilistic. And the band plays on.