Worldwide fossil fuel subsidies last year were $5.9 trillion!

Perhaps a more alarming way of looking at this, worldwide fossil fuel subsidies last year were $11 million a minute.

Just think what that amount of money could do for mitigating climate change and reversing the damage on the natural world.

Explicit subsidies that make the fuel cheaper accounted for 8%, while tax breaks added another 6%. Failing to pay for poor health and deaths caused by pollution from these accounted for 42%. Failing to pay for heatwaves and other problems associated with climate change accounted for another 29%. The last few percent with other things.

This is a big problem. Even in the West there is a constant argument that there should be no subsidies for electric cars, they can’t stand on their own feet they should be allowed to die. Yet the fossil fuel industry is hundreds of years old, and is still subsidized dramatically. Wiping out all these subsidies could dramatically improve the situation as many fossil fuel projects would become too expensive to attempt.

In the UK we have a slightly strange situation. For a long time it has been recognised that fossil fuels you used to slap your car’s should be taxed. Indeed the fuel accounts for well over half of the price you pay the petrol pump (currently this privates is around 130 or 140 pennies). What frustrates me, is that none of this is directly earmarked for dealing with the problems that are caused. If all this money went into a fund to fight climate change, I would fully understand. The British government would have a fund worth billions a year, with which to fight global warming around the world – this sort of money could potentially make a big difference.

Yet, even in good times, this money has looked on merely as extra money for the government. As a result one of the biggest concerns that are regularly voiced about electric cars is how to raise this huge amount of money without the fossil fuels.

One of the problems, is that many of the schemes that are suggested to offset this loss in funds are ideas such as a tax on the distance you drive in an electric car. 

Now in order to raise a similar amount, you would likely need to tax something like 10p a mile. Firstly this would be very unpopular, and is likely to more than double the cost of running electric car each year on average. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, publicly discussing putting a hefty tax on a industry that is just starting to get going, is a phenomenally good way of killing it off. We can’t afford that – far from any discussion of tax in electric cars, the British government among all other governments should be helping reduce the cost of switching over.

As Elon musk keeps pointing out, fossil fuels are a finite resource, which we have to learn to live without them. Even more alarmingly, we must learn this. this decade to avoid the worst of climate change. It should be noted, that fossil fuels are a finite resource and so even if in centuries time they will eventually run out -eventually we will not be able to run on them. Given the damage they are doing to the world environment, surely it is sensible to make that move as soon as possible. In the early days of petrol cars they competed with electric cars, and it was only really with a large amount of underhand behaviour that combustion engine cars won out. The worlds Oil companies have done very well from this stupid decision, and reversing it must happen as soon as possible. My family hope to lease an electric car this year if we can as well.

Fossil fuel companies must be forced to face the full burden of the cost that their behaviour makes as soon as possible, as this is the only way to make users of fossil fuels pay the full price. If the government was to cut out these subsidies over a few years, it would likely prompt huge numbers of people to switch over to electric.

Similar schemes around the world would have the same impact. Virtually every country in the world recognises we need just stop using fossil fuels, as such the sooner that the world trade organisation agrees this and makes a rule that bans fossil fuel subsidies so that everyone has to work without them – the sooner we can truly judge the cost of things like electric transportation and start phasing out the more expensive option.

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