3 March 2014 – An alliance of Australia’s leading environment and community organisations has called for the Australian Government to cut fossil fuel subsidies.

The Paid to Pollute alliance, which includes  World Wildlife Foundation, Australian Conservation Foundation and Oxfam, said the federal government currently spends more than $10 billion a year on incentives for burning fossil fuels and for new fossil fuel extraction projects, creating significant environmental and fiscal impacts. This includes a $2 billion a year fuel subsidy for the mining industry.

New figures compiled by Environment Victoria and Market Forces show that more than $40 billion will be spent in the next four years on tax-based federal government subsidies alone, unless action is taken at the upcoming budget.

Huh? The ERF pays people to stop polluting, the fuel subsidies pays them to pollute

“With the proposed introduction of the Emissions Reduction Fund, it doesn’t make sense to pay companies to reduce their emissions while simultaneously paying them to pollute more. It is like putting your foot on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time,” Safe Climate campaign manager for Environment Victoria, Dr Nicholas Aberle said.

The International Energy Agency agrees – it’s foot on the pedal…no on the break…no both at once!

The chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Faith Birol, has used a similar analogy, describing fossil fuel subsidies as “a handbrake as we drive along the road to a sustainable energy future”.

Birol has also stated that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies world-wide would “take us halfway to a trajectory that would hold us to 2 degrees Celsius [global warming, 2 degrees being the limit of safety according to many scientists]”.

Member organisations of the Paid to Pollute Alliance include GetUp, World Wildlife Foundation, Australian Conservation Foundation, Oxfam, 350.org, The Australia Institute, Friends of the Earth, and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. You can find the joint statement here, and add your name to the petition here.