IMF estimates global fossil fuel subsidies at $8.1 trillion as UN urges green energy push

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, AFP) – IMF research estimates global fossil fuel subsidies at about US$6 trillion (S$8.1 trillion) , with about 70 per cent from “under-charging” for the environmental costs associated with the fuels, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told a UN energy summit on Friday.

The IMF previously had estimated such costs at about US$5.2 trillion in 2017.

“The good news is that global carbon emissions would fall by one-third – in line with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – if fossil fuel prices increase to fully reflect environmental and supply costs by 2025,” Georgieva said in prepared remarks to the energy summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Her comments came as governments and the private sector pledged to spend more than US$400 billion at the summit that called for an acceleration of efforts to avert catastrophic climate change.

The spending commitments, many of which have been announced previously, include projects to expand electricity access in developing countries, boost clean cooking technologies and improve energy efficiency as part of a drive to decarbonise the energy system.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Friday for the world to redouble its renewable energy efforts to avert a climate emergency and address global energy poverty.

He described the mandate as a “double imperative – to end energy poverty and to limit climate change.

“And we have an answer that will fulfil both imperatives,” Guterres said. “Affordable, renewable and sustainable energy for all.”

The UN says some 760 million people around the world currently lack access to electricity. Guterres said the world should aim to cut that number in half by 2025.

Guterres noted there has been some progress, with renewable energy now comprising 29 per cent of global electricity generation.

“But it’s not nearly fast enough,” Guterres said. “We are still a long way from being able to provide affordable and clean energy for all.”

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Guterres said the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in 2030 from 2010 levels to limit temperature rise to 1.5 deg C.

He called for a quadrupling of solar and wind capacity by that time, part of a push to triple investments on renewable energy and energy efficiency to US$5 trillion per year.

And Guterres called on authorities to phase out subsidies on fossil fuel production and “put a price on carbon”.

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