IEA Head Calls for End to Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Dec 5, 2012 Posted by

TreeHugger

Mat McDermott
Energy / Energy Policy
December 3, 2012


Mike Baird/CC BY 2.0

The International Energy Agency has been increasingly blunt in its assessments of how continuing down a fossil fuel-led energy path means really bad things for a stable climate.

The latest call, as PV Magazine reports, is that it’s “more urgent than ever” to reduce carbon emissions and that it will become “more difficult and more expensive with every passing year” to deal with the negative effects of climate change.

Pretty standard stuff if it was coming from an environmental advocacy organization, but the IEA hasn’t been historically known for really being an environmental organization. It’s focus, until very recently, has been to produce reports on the state of energy use around the world and to pen eagerly read reports on how that is likely to change in the future, based on best assessments of available energy reserves around the world. But clearly the IEA, like an increasing number of climate scientists, has decided that the state of climate inaction is such that organizationally it must speak out more often.

Which gets to the really blunt part of all this. Hidden down at the bottom of the PV Magazine piece linked above is the following quote from IEA executive director Maria van der Hoven: “Fossil fuel subsidies must be eliminated.”

Again, the IEA is hardly an activist organization, nor really a radical one. So when the IEA head is talking about the need to end fossil fuel subsidies so that low carbon energy sources can compete on a level playing field, you know both that the situation regarding climate is direly urgent and that the movement to cut special support (be it actual subsidies or favorable tax policy, auction terms, what have you… let’s not get sidetracked by splitting that hair) has reached some sort of critical mass.

Adding to the most recent IEA call to end fossil fuel subsidies: IEA chief economist Fatih Birol notes that phasing out price supports for fossil fuels would so shift investments in clean energy and thereby reduce emissions that it would alone get us halfway to preventing dangerous climate change.

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