Stop Subsidizing Climate Change

When governments gather in Warsaw next week for a crucial round of climate negotiations, expectations will be running at an all-time low. But it does not have to be this way: The meeting should galvanize action on one of the most potent forces driving climate change – the billions of dollars governments spend on fossil-fuel subsidies.

LONDON – Next week, governments will gather in Warsaw, Poland, for a crucial round of climate negotiations, with both expectation and ambition running at an all-time low. But it does not have to be like this: The Warsaw meeting provides an opportunity to galvanize action on one of the most potent forces driving climate change – the billions of dollars spent by governments on fossil-fuel subsidies.

The Warsaw talks are a staging post on the route to the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris, at which governments will seek to forge an agreement that prevents dangerous climate change, defined as global warming of more than two degrees Celsius. Failure would expose future generations to catastrophic climate risks, while trapping millions of people in poverty as a result of more frequent, intense, and protracted droughts, floods, and storms.

Basic carbon arithmetic illustrates the scale of the problem. According to the most recent assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we are on a trajectory toward exhausting the twenty-first century’s entire carbon budget by 2030.

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