How financially sustainable is an industry if it is distorted by $5 trillion in annual subsidies? That’s the challenge laid out by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is taking direct aim at government subsidies for producers and consumers of fuels such as oil, gas and coal. “Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and polluters must start paying for their pollution,” Guterres said Wednesday.
Guterres and his allies see that turmoil in global oil markets, combined with massive expansions of national budgets to help economies recover from the coronavirus, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for them to green national economies. After all, which consumers need free or nearly free oil subsidized? And which government wants to subsidize a company that might collapse anyway? Five trillion dollars can pay off a lot of debt or buy a lot of green infrastructure.
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