* The global fossil fuel subsidy scam

James Plested
wind turbines

Five trillion US dollars annually – that’s how much is being lavished in various forms of subsidies on the global fossil fuel industry, according to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). US$10 million a minute – more than the health budgets of every country on earth combined.

We’re told that there’s not enough money for decent health care, education or welfare. But the equivalent of 6.5 percent of global GDP is being poured into an industry that’s driving the world to social and environmental catastrophe.

The shocking findings of the IMF’s working paper, “How large are global energy subsidies?”, are based on calculations of the true cost of fossil fuels when all their destructive environmental, health and other impacts are taken into account – what in economic terms are called “externalities”.

The most obvious of these externalities is climate change. Phenomena such as rising sea levels, increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events (droughts, floods, cyclones) and bushfires are already costing the world hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

But even this, according to the IMF’s analysis, is only a small part of it. The larger portion of the hidden costs of fossil fuels relates not to climate change, but rather to more “everyday” impacts such as the negative health effects of air pollution.