11 December 2018

New network brings together countries to reform fossil fuel subsidies and tackle climate change during UN climate conference

KATOWICE, December 11, 2018 – A cohort of government officials kick off a virtual, international hub today dedicated to understanding fossil fuel subsidies in order to accelerate their phase-out and meet the Paris Agreement.

Officially launched at COP 24 in Poland, the Friends’ Network – led by the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform – brings together 20 country representatives from around the world to share lessons, knowledge, and experiences for successfully implementing fossil fuel subsidy reform (FFSR) by encouraging innovative, tried and tested solutions. Hosted by IISD’s Global Subsidies Initiative, participants took part in five virtual round tables during the past year addressing a variety of challenges related to the reform and taxation of fossil fuels.

“Subsidies to fossil fuels still remain incredibly high at around 400$ billion. These subsidies take us in the opposite direction of the Paris Agreement,” said Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Environment, Finland. “The resources used for fossil fuel subsidies should be redirected to supporting access to clean energy and enabling a fair transition”.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,temperatures are on track to rise above 1.5degC – the internationally agreed threshold set by scientists to limit climate change impacts. Figures from the International Energy Agency also show an increase in fossil fuel subsidies in 2017, and a high risk of backsliding on energy sector reforms from previous years.

“We must learn from each others’ successes, to enable smooth policy changes and reforms towards adequate pricing of fossil fuels, taking into account the needs of all, with special consideration of the most disadvantaged groups,” said Marc Chardonnens,State Secretary for the Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland. “This Network shares lessons between countries and to identify, what works, and what doesn’t.”

Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies by making finance flows consistent with low greenhouse gas emissions is a key area outlined in the Paris Agreement that could help contain global temperature rise. Emission reductions from FFSR alone represent a quarter of all countries pledged efforts towards the Agreement.

The momentum to accelerate the ongoing energy transition is clear, and as governments work to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, sharing experiences between countries is more important than ever.

“Experiencing price increases in Zambia has been tough especially for low income earners who have felt the impact through a higher cost of living,” said Kangwa Muyunda, Assistant Policy Analyst with CUTS Lusakain Zambia. Support like this helps governments to do the right thing and invest in social safety nets and low-carbon energy with the savings from reforms.”

For media inquires,please contact Ziona Eyob, Media and Communications Officer zeyob@iisd.ca

About the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform: Set up in June 2010, the “Friends” is an informal group of non-G20 countries aiming to build political consensus on the importance of FFSR. Members of the group include Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden,Switzerland and Uruguay. Learn more at www.fffsr.org

About the IISD Global Subsidies Initiative: The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank championing sustainable solutions to 21st century problems. The Global Subsidies Initiative supports international processes, national governments and civil society organizations to align subsidies with sustainable development. Learn more at www.iisd.org/gsi

The Friends group was formed in June 2010 to support G20 and APEC leaders’ commitments to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. The Friends encourage the G20 and APEC to implement their initiative as soon as possible, with maximum ambition and transparency.

Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform are

  • Costa Rica
  • Denmark
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Uruguay