G20 Countries Contradicting Their Pledge to Minimize Fossil Fuel Subsidies

And what of the climate crisis? Some nations of the forum have tripled their coal power subsidies.
Fabienne Lang

A decade ago, the G20 nations pledged to phase out their support and use of fossil fuel.

Ten years later, some of these member countries are found to have tripled their subsidies to coal power plants. 

A somewhat contradictory move.


The G20 is an international forum that meets annually. It comprises of the governments and central bank governors from the EU countries and 19 other countries. 

Due to the major issue of climate change, the member nations had decided to minimize their subsidies in order to cut down carbon emissions

G20 nations financing major fossil fuel power plants

A report, published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), in fact, show that Japan is one of the largest economic supporters of coal. Japan is, of course, a long time member of the G20 forum. 

These findings prove surprising since, Shinzo Abe, Japan's Prime Minister, said in September:

"Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations...We must take more robust actions and reduce the use of fossil fuels." 

Ahead of Japan in providing subsidies are China and India. South Africa, South Korea, Indonesia, and the US are next. 

Ipek Gençsü, lead author of the report said: "It has now been 10 years since the G20 committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, yet astonishingly governments are actually increasing the amount they give to coal power plants." 

G20 Countries Contradicting Their Pledge to Minimize Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Climate change protest. Source: Niekverlaan/ Pixabay

This is worrying information, indeed.

Global emissions need to come down by half in the next decade if we want to save millions of human and animals lives alike. Otherwise, droughts, floods, extreme heat waves, and poverty will continue to worsen. 

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Unfortunately for all, emissions are still worsening. The year 2018 saw coal-fired power as the highest, singular, contributor to the increase in emissions that year. 

Some numbers

The researchers of the report discovered that the average annual amount of financial and tax subsidies for coal mining with building and maintaining coal-fired power plants rose from $17bn in 2014 to $47bn in 2017

Contrastingly, coal mining subsidies themselves halved during that period, from $22bn to $10bn. 

"In reality, government support to coal is much larger than our report's numbers show, because many G20 countries still lack transparency on the many ways they subsidise coal," said Ivetta Gerasimchuk, co-author of the report. 

G20 Countries Contradicting Their Pledge to Minimize Fossil Fuel Subsidies
There is no Planet B. Source: NiklasPntk/Pixabay

Coal use is probably going to end soon as the sector is declining around the world. It feels very much like these governments are dragging their feet towards the inevitable. 

It's not all doom and gloom however, as approximately 5 percent of coal subsidies found in the report went to supporting transitions away from coal, particularly in the UK and Germany.

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