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Environment

Fossil Fuels Subsidies Hit $500 Billion

by Steven K. Gibb
May 25, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 21

Globally, governments now provide $500 billion in direct government subsidies of fossil fuels each year, according to an International Monetary Fund report. When human health, environmental, and climate damages from fossil-fuel use are added to this figure, fossil fuels cost countries $5.3 trillion annually, IMF says. Coal accounts for the biggest share of this cost, given its significant impacts on health and the environment. Meanwhile, subsidies for fossil fuels discourage investments in energy efficiency, renewables, and energy infrastructure and increase the vulnerability of countries to volatile international energy prices, the report says. Eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies in 2015 could raise government revenue worldwide by $2.9 trillion, cut global carbon dioxide emissions by 20%, and halve premature deaths from exposure to air pollution, it adds.

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