10 December 2020

“We must act now”: Ten governments call on world leaders to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Geneva, December 10—In the lead-up to the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, ten governments are calling on world leaders to turn their high-level commitments into urgent action and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. “We must act now,” says a joint statement from the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay), a group of countries whose governments actively support a global reform of fossil fuel subsidies, and the incoming co-host of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) – the United Kingdom. 

The statement urges countries, businesses, and other organizations to ensure their COVID-19 economic recovery is consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. “Without a focus on green recovery, there is a risk that fiscal stimulus packages will further entrench fossil fuel use,” the group states.

“As the COVID-19 economic recovery begins, we must set course towards a low-emissions and climate-resilient future,” said Damien O’Connor, New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, commenting on the statement.

“Every policy and every action must pull in the same direction,” said Isabella Lövin, Minister for Environment and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden. “I encourage more countries to support the initiative and its cause,” she added.  

The release of the statement marks the 5th anniversary of the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Communiqué presented to world leaders at the historic Paris Climate Summit in November 2015. Supported by 40 governments, the Communiqué delivered a strong message on the significant contribution that eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would make to the shared objective of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The statement recognizes and reflects on the progress made to date and encourages leaders to continue reform. 

The initiative was welcomed by the Government of the United Kingdom who will co-host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) next year with Italy.

“The UK strongly supports international efforts to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which is why we are leading international action to tackle climate change and reduce global emissions,” said the UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng. “This Communiqué highlights the importance of such action in the fight to eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies and to build a zero carbon, climate-resilient future that is essential for our people and our planet.”

Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn, highlighted that reaching the goals of the Agreement will require ambitious actions in the years to come, and subsidy reform can make a “significant contribution to limiting global average temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” 

“It is important to clearly identify direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies, and raise awareness about their existence and their detrimental effects for a more sustainable future,” said Ambassador Stefan Estermann, Head of the Sectoral Foreign Policies Division, State Secretariat, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs for Switzerland. “Only then can we take informed and fact-based decisions and subsequent political action,” he added.

Formed in June 2010, the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform is an informal group of non-G20 countries aiming to build political consensus on the importance of fossil fuel subsidy reform. Current members of the “Friends” group are Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

The Statement on Global Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform on the Fifth Anniversary of the Paris Agreement and FFSR Communiqué was published on December 10, 09:01 GMT 

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