More transparent reporting can make us aware of the extent of these subsidies, who pays for them and which companies benefit, and make it more likely that we all will call for a change.
In 2013 the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development published the first comprehensive accounting of fossil fuel subsidies in developed countries. This year, it has updated the numbers and made them accessible through an online portal. According to the findings, the 34 OECD member countries spend about $65 billion on subsidies and tax breaks for consumption, exploration and production of fossil fuels each year.
Just having these numbers in the public domain is a substantial improvement. For example, the U.S. government has identified close to $5 billion of lost revenue at the federal level through fossil fuel production tax provisions in 2015. But the OECD portal also lists significant state subsidies, including $1.2 billion in consumer and production tax breaks in Texas and just under $1 billion in Alaska.
Last week, a new report from the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International introduced yet more useful new data on subsidies by the major economies of the G20. It found that G20 country governments spend $452 billion on fossil fuel production subsidies a year (including direct subsidies and tax breaks, investments by state-owned enterprises, and public finance from government-owned banks).
Because of such initiatives, transparency on fossil fuel subsidies has been increasing. A big driver of this change was the G20 Leaders’ commitment in 2009 to phase out inefficient subsidies. Clarity about who pays and who benefits from subsidies is an absolutely essential first step to build understanding and support for reform.
How Big Are Fossil Fuel Subsidies? Letâ€™s Make it Clear | World Resources Institute