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The Bonfire of the Subsidies

The number of chances that the world will have to address climate change is dwindling. One of them comes with this week’s G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, where leaders of the world’s advanced and major emerging economies can signal serious intent by cutting the fossil-fuel subsidies that fuel global warming.

LONDON – The number of chances that the world will have to address climate change is dwindling. One of them comes with this week’s G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, where leaders of the world’s advanced and major emerging economies can signal serious intent by cutting the fossil-fuel subsidies that fuel global warming.

Five years ago, the G-20 pledged to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” as part of a wider strategy for combating climate change. Yet the subsidies have continued to grow. Globally, some $600 billion is spent to support carbon-intensive energy, compared to just $90 billion for clean energy.

That makes no sense. Fossil-fuel subsidies encourage investors to put resources into the fuels that are driving climate change. They generate the terrible local pollution that blights cities in China and India. And most of the benefits of the subsidies are captured by the middle class, not the poor.

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