The Washington Post recently released a story that really grabbed my attention. It was a one-minute ad using a talking CGI dinosaur, a velociraptor. CGI is it an acronym for computer-generated imagery. The headline read… “Talking dinosaur warns world leaders to 'save your species' in U.N. climate change campaign. In a video released on Oct. 27, a computer-generated dinosaur urged the United Nations General Assembly to end public funds on fossil fuel subsidies.” Look for it on YouTube. Wait a minute…subsidies? But I thought that we were supposed to be shrinking our global carbon footprint. Right?
In a 2021 Brookings Institution report, it is stated that “…these subsidies increase the use of fossil fuels, which causes a range of adverse environmental and health impacts. These impacts [are} “…due to air pollution from fossil fuels [with a cost] range between $2.6 trillion to $8.1 trillion globally and are felt most acutely in developing and emerging countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and India.”
In an article I found in the magazine Mother Jones, it was reported that the fossil fuel industries (coal, oil, and gas) receive subsidies of $11 million every minute! This is based on an analysis of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which reported that “… [g]lobally, fossil fuel subsidies were $5.9 trillion in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of GDP, and are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025.Sep 24, 2021.” imf.org. That’s trillion with a T. These subsidies may come in the form of direct cash payments to suppliers and/or customers, or as “…indirect support mechanisms, such as tax exemptions and rebates, price controls, trade restrictions, and limits on market access.” en.wikipedia.org.
The IMF identifies several of the big players in this game as Iran which pays out $86.1 billion per year , China $30.5 billion, Saudi Arabia $28.7 billion, Russia $24.1 billion, and India $21.9 billion. The Guardian newspaper ran a piece recently reporting that “…governments [were] spending vastly more in support of fossil fuels than on low-carbon energy in rescue packages triggered by the coronavirus crisis...despite rhetoric from many countries in support of a 'green recovery'." What is causing this huge case of cognitive dissonance? In the word… Lobbies.
Lobbyists are the cheerleaders in the fossil fuel subsidy game. Thanks to our congress and these other first-world governments, “… 1,801 [of the] largest publicly traded oil, gas and coal companies worldwide earned net profits worth $500 billion USD in 2013 yet received direct subsidies worth $700 billion.” forbes.com. What's wrong with this picture, folks? Citizens obviously do not have control of the rudder of their ship. As long as big oil, gas, and coal have undue influence over fuel subsidies, the ship of state is headed on a collision course. We are in the throes of an environmental catastrophe of our own making. Pay heed to the velociraptor.
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