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World Bank president calls for fossil fuel subsidies to be scrapped



Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, has called for fossil fuel subsidies to be scrapped immediately and for a price to be put on carbon.

Speaking to the Guardian, Kim said, “You can have growth that will protect the plant and decouple carbon emissions from growth. We can get it now, but it would be much easier if we put a price on carbon.”

He added, “[Developing countries] can feel the boot of climate change on their neck, more so than people in the developed world. The results of the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather-related events are having a much bigger impact in poor countries than in the US or Europe.”

The comments have been made ahead of a UN climate change summit set to be held in Paris later this year. It is hoped that an ambitious universal treaty can be agreed at the summit that will allow the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Kim argues that a biding international treaty and putting a price on carbon will spur on new technology.

Research has suggested that the price of carbon should be increased by up to 200% to avoid climate tipping points. Another recent study also argued that increasing the price of carbon would have an “extremely limited” impact on EU businesses, despite claims it could harm the economy.

At a UN climate summit last year David Cameron called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. During a speech he said, “We need to give business the certainty it needs to invest in low carbon. That means fighting against the economically and environmentally perverse fossil fuel subsidies, which distort free markets and rip off taxpayers.”

Despite these comments figures released earlier this year show that the government’s export credit agency has spent over 300 times as much supporting the fossil fuel industry than it has clean energy projects. Over the course of the coalition government being in parliament UK Export Finance allocated £1.13 billion to fossil fuel firms, compared to £3.6 million for green energy projects.

A previous study from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis suggested that much of the hundreds of billions of dollars of renewable energy investment needed to prevent dangerous levels of climate change could come from current fossil fuel subsidies.

Photo: the new age via Twitter

Further reading:

MPs call for cuts to fossil fuel subsidies, not green levies

UN climate summit: Cameron calls for end to fossil fuel subsidies and a strong climate deal in Paris

UK government spent 300 times more on fossil fuel than clean tech

Much-needed $800bn renewable energy investment can come from fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidies preventing transition to low-carbon economy