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WWF-Canada

March 28, 2013 10:49 ET

WWF: Maintenance of Fossil Fuel Subsidies Is a Global Scandal, Supporting IMF Findings

GLAND, SWITZERLAND--(Marketwire - March 28, 2013) - The continued maintenance of fossil fuel subsidies is a global scandal and governments should work to transform these subsidies into financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy, says WWF, responding to a report released today by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) report Energy Subsidy Reform: Lessons and Implications shines a much needed light on the dark side of fossil fuel subsidies.

The IMF assessment shows that global fossil fuel subsidies - including carbon pollution impacts from fossil fuels - account for almost 9% of all annual country budgets - amounting to a staggering $US 1.9 trillion, much higher than previously estimated. And importantly, says WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative leader Samantha Smith, the report confirms that the poorest 20% of developing countries only marginally benefit from energy subsidies.

"Removing these subsidies would reduce carbon pollution by 13%. This would be a major step towards reducing the world's carbon footprint. Maintenance of these subsidies is a global scandal, a crime against the environment and an active instrument against clean energy and technological innovation. We strongly support transforming fossil fuel subsidies into an effective scheme for financing energy efficiency and renewables and making sure that the poor in developing countries benefit appropriately and receive clean, affordable and reliable energy," she says.

The IMF findings show that almost half of fossil fuel subsidies occur in OECD nations. The US, with about $US 500 billion annually, accounts for more than one quarter of all global fossil fuel subsidies, followed by China with almost $US 300 billion and Russia ($US 115 billion).

WWF Global Energy Policy Director Stephan Singer says industrialised countries are responsible for the lion's share of fossil fuel subsidies and should act now to stop them. "If they were to abolish those subsidies and reform towards renewables and energy efficiency investments, it would more than triple present global investment into renewables," he says. "And that is what is needed for a world powered by 100% sustainable renewables."

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

The Global Climate & Energy Initiative (GCEI) is WWF's global programme addressing climate change, promoting renewable and sustainable energy, scaling up green finance, engaging the private sector and working nationally and internationally on implementing low carbon, climate resilient development.

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