New IISD report: G20 backtracks on fossil fuel funding phase-out

G20 governments are still spending more than half a trillion USD on oil, gas, and coal each year—and the pandemic has likely undone any progress on phasing out this support. In Doubling Back and Doubling Down: G20 Scorecard on Fossil Fuel Funding, researchers considered recovery commitments and pre-pandemic policies to rank G20 countries’ progress in phasing out support to fossil fuels.

This G20 scorecard report aims to track each of the G20 countries’ progress in ending government support to fossil fuels. It has been prepared in order to increase transparency and accountability, as well as to highlight areas where more progress is needed so that G20 countries can meet their phase-out commitments and help accelerate the energy transition needed to meet our climate targets. It does so by reviewing progress in ending G20 funding to fossil fuel production and consumption between 2014 and 2019 and is complemented by an analysis of public money commitments for fossil fuel-intensive sectors in response to the COVID-19 crisis up to August 12, 2020.

Despite various commitments since 2009 to end government support for fossil fuels and make “finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development” (Paris Agreement, Article 2.1c), G20 governments continued to provide significant support to fossil fuels in 2017–2019. G20 governments provided $584 billion annually (2017–2019 average) via direct budgetary transfers and tax expenditures, price support, public finance, and state-owned enterprise investment for the production and consumption of fossil fuels at home and abroad.

The results show that before COVID-19, G20 governments’ support to fossil fuels had dropped by only 9% since 2014–2016. In most countries assessed, progress in last three years was described by experts as “poor” or “very poor,” and no country was considered to have made “good progress.” Now, already not on track to meet Paris Agreement commitments, G20 governments are moving in the opposite direction. G20 countries have spent at least USD 233 billion more on fossils in their recovery packages, according to the Energy Policy Tracker.

Although this report and other recent data indicate that the already slow progress on phasing out fossil fuel funding has been thrown into reverse, researchers say there are upcoming opportunities for governments to turn the tide.

The scorecard is published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) together with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Oil Change International.  The report is available here.

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