Timely seminars and high level events help promote reform. Events are ordered chronologically and include an impressive number of influential speakers from around the world.
The GSI and the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform organized an event on 7th December 2015 at COP21 in Paris, entitled “Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Climate Change: National action and international phase out”.
The speakers included several prominent ministers from FFFSR member countries such as Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, New Climate Economy; Scott Vaughan, CEO and President of IISD. Participants called for an early end to fossil fuel subsidies, and investments by governments into renewable energy, health and education.
Doris Leuthard, Head, Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland, Switzerland, said that successfully addressing FFS reform is “more like a marathon than a sprint,” requiring determination and perseverance.
Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA), referred to the “absurd situation” of the opposite forces at work in the global energy economy, in which the carbon price in Europe is approximately US$10, yet incentives for the use of fossil fuels globally, in the form of subsidies, equate to an average of US$110 per tonne of carbon.
Risto Piipponen, Ambassador to France, Finland, indicated that the socio-economic benefits of subsidies should be considered when looking at reform.
Scott Vaughan, President and CEO, IISD, noted that subsidies encourage greater consumption of fossil fuels by artificially deflating their cost.
Felipe Calderón, Chair, Global Commission on Economy and Climate, suggested that it is wealthier households with greater energy use who get the most benefit from fossil fuel subsidies, underlining as well that reforms should be implemented in a way that benefits low-income households.
Reporting on the “huge budget deficits” attributable to fossil fuel subsidies in many countries, Børge Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway, posed the question “how can we afford not to reform fossil fuel subsidies?”.
Tim Groser, Minister for International Climate Change Negotiations, New Zealand referred to the positive momentum from the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Communiqué and the need to implement a global carbon price within the next two decades, lamenting that the continued subsidization of fossil fuels was the “height of policy incoherence”.
Ibrahim Baylan, Minister for Energy, Sweden explained that while Sweden’s domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have declined 24% since 1990, emissions from consumption of goods and international transport have increased. He suggested carbon pricing as an effective method to tackle this international dimension of climate change.