The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is raising the significant issue of worldwide fossil fuel subsidies.
They maintain that a system that eliminates fossil fuel subsidies would save governments billions of dollars – billions that could be used as incentives for companies creating cleaner forms of energy.
Not only could the funds be used elsewhere, the elimination of subsidies could serve to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as many companies would reduce their use of fossil fuels.
The IISD expects this issue to reach an international level at the Rio+20 (pdf link) United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
As it is with other international issues, the challenging part of this will be attempting to get everyone to come to some sort of consensus, and to lay out an international framework. At the conference, IISD plans to encourage governments to pledge to support the elimination of subsidies.
While they want an end to fossil fuel subsidies, they have still shown that subsidies toward cleaner fuel sources such as biofuels and renewables may not be completely favorable for the environment, either. According to the research website, subsidies could also lead to negative outcomes such as picking and favoring certain technologies which drive away investments for other sources that are just as promising.
Sounds similar to the situation with subsidies provided for American oil companies. Do you think eliminating fossil fuel subsidies is a smart idea, or can you think of an alternative way to promote the development of cleaner energy sources?
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