A new report reveals an uncomfortable truth about the countries pressuring President Donald Trump to take climate change more seriously: They’re collectively funneling billions of dollars into propping up oil, gas, and coal. Released by a coalition of advocacy groups led by Oil Change International, the report shows the G20 countries gave an annual average of $71.8 billion to finance fossil fuel projects from 2013-2015, compared with $18.7 billion per year for renewable energy projects. That’s about four times more public financing for fossil fuels than clean energy sources.
Much of this money comes from countries that have explicitly called for more action on climate change. Germany vowed to confront Trump at the G20 over his refusal to work with other countries to fight global warming, but Germany still gives more money to the fossil fuel industry ($3.5 billion) than the renewable industry ($2.4 billion), according to the report.
All this is happening despite G20 countries’ pledge in 2009 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. The countries estimated that eliminating subsidies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 10 percent; other groups have predicted much bigger reductions.
Collectively, the G20 countries are spending less on dirty energy subsidies than they used to. In 2009, for instance, it was estimated that the countries spent a combined $300 billion annually. An earlier report led by Oil Change International showed the countries spent a combined $88 billion in 2013 on finding new fossil fuel reserves, while this year’s report says they averaged $13.5 billion from 2013-2015.
Still, the report’s authors say their findings show countries still have a long way to go to put their money where their mouths are. Until they do, Trump has a potent argument to justify his refusal to cooperate with the Paris agreement and other global climate change efforts.