G20 governments have more than doubled the amount of financial subsidies paid to coal power plants in just three years, despite pledging a decade ago to phase out subsidies to all fossil fuels in a bid to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) G20 coal subsidies: Tracking government support to a fading industry report found that despite an ‘historic’ fall in total investment in coal, the average annual amount G20 governments spent to help build and sustain coal-fired power plants increased from $17 billion to $47 billion between 2014 and 2017.
“It has now been ten years since the G20 committed to phasing out subsidies to fossil fuels, yet astonishingly some governments are actually increasing the amount they give to coal power plants,” Lead author Ipek Gençsü, Research Fellow at ODI, said
“Momentum is growing around the world for governments to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis. Ending subsidies to coal would bring environmental, social and economic benefits to all and help set a level playing field for clean energy.”
Han Chen, manager of international energy policy at Natural Resources Defense Council , said: "Other G20 governments may struggle to take Japan’s rhetoric on climate change seriously, as this year’s G20 host government continues to pour billions of dollars into propping up coal in Japan and around the world. If Prime Minister Abe is serious about dealing with climate change, he should lead by example and end Japan’s government-backed finance for coal."
The total amount of government support identified, at least $64 billion per year, comes through three main sources:
$28bn per year through governments’ public finance institutions such as bilateral development banks and export credit agencies investing in coal projects, with the majority of this being spent abroad
$15bn per year of fiscal support through budget allocations and tax exemptions
$21bn per year invested through majority state-owned coal mining and utility companies