Monday, April 21 2014

Canada can lead international reform on energy subsidies, says leader of International Institute for Sustainable Development

Bullfrog Power has long advocated that subsidies on fossil fuel-based energy generation be reduced. Subsidies help feed a reliance on polluting forms of energy generation (and energy waste) and do not motivate Canadians to develop or champion alternate (currently, more expensive) renewable energy options.

Franz Tattenbach, president and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, recently made a case in the Toronto Star for subsidy reform. According to Tattenbach’s article, reform has the potential to bring about two critical benefits:

  • It’s a powerful solution to climate change. The phase-out of subsidies for fossil fuels could provide over 40 per cent of the greenhouse gas reductions required by 2020 to limit the global temperature rise to around 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Subsidy reform is good economic policy. With the current subsidies, governments are giving $312 billion of taxpayers’ money annually to fossil fuel producers. Governments give producers an additional $100 billion annually. Eliminating subsidies would allow these funds to be directed towards much more sustainable uses including transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Tattenbach also thinks that Canada is in a position to lead on subsidy reform. All of our political parties have in one way or another supported reform, and the country, through its membership in the G20, has agreed with the international community that action is required. Further, Tattenbach states, “As the one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas, Canada’s commitment to act on this issue positions it as a credible leader in international discussions and negotiations on subsidy reform…”

The article was written and published prior to the recent election. Is there a good chance the author’s vision will come to fruition in this new parliament – or is he being optimistic?

Tom Heintzman
President, Bullfrog Power

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