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WWF Calls on G20 to Halt 'outrageous' Taxpayer Subsidies for Fossil Fuel Industry

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Media backgrounder on fossil fuel subsidies

WWF’s policy recommendations for G8/G20

June 24, 2010 – As world leaders gather in Toronto this week for the 2010 G20 Summit, World Wildlife Fund and other observers will be looking for progress by each of the countries on commitments made last year in Pittsburgh to bring an end to the billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies that are paid out to the fossil fuel industry each year.

“As is clear from the disaster in the gulf, it’s time to make the switch to a clean energy future,” said Keya Chatterjee, Director of WWF’s climate change program in the US.  “Subsidizing dirty, dangerous oil on the backs of struggling taxpayers is outrageous and it will not end our addiction to fossil fuels and it undermines our efforts to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change and ocean acidification.

“The American people are struggling to make ends meet and yet they are expected to further line the pockets of Big Oil, Big Coal and the rest of the fossil fuel industry?  We’re talking some of the most profitable companies in the history of the world taking handouts from taxpayers and exploding the federal debt.  It is totally unsustainable and it needs to end now.  We need comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation that limits fossil fuel pollution, not more taxpayer bailouts of Big Oil and Big Coal,” Chatterjee said.

Recent studies have estimated that, globally, more than $500 billion goes into subsidizing fossil fuel production and consumption – an amount that is roughly ten times the annual amount estimated as adequate to meet global Millennium Development Goals for eradicating poverty.

At last year’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh, finance ministers of the world’s largest economies were directed to report to their leaders meeting in Toronto, Canada in late June 2010 with implementation strategies and timetables.  With that deadline now imminent, countries are waffling about their commitments to remove what they themselves referred to as ‘inefficient fossil fuel subsidies [that] encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources, and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.’

“We are looking to leaders to ensure that their fine words of a year ago are not allowed to degenerate into a debate on how to define fuel subsidies.”

The G20 nations account for close to 90 percent of global GDP and nearly 80 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

Contact: Joe Pouliot, 202-495-4730, joe.pouliot@wwfus.org.

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