Shifting Subsidies to Renewable Energy Instead of Propping Up Fossil Fuel Giants Would Prompt ‘Clean Energy Revolution’, Study Shows
“What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word: to destroy the world.”
By Julia Conley
After two Democratic candidates in this week’s presidential primary debates called for an end to government subsidies for fossil fuel companies, a new study revealed that even reducing those subsidies—as the world’s wealthiest countries pledged to a decade ago—would kick-start “clean energy revolution.”
As The Guardian reported Thursday, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) released a report showing that if just 10 to 30 percent of the annual coal, oil, and gas subsidies were given to the renewable energy sector, the world could see a prompt reduction of fossil fuel emissions by nearly 20 percent.
“Public money is far better spent delivering the clean energy transition than propping up the fossil fuel industry. All countries should be looking to identify where swaps can kick-start their clean energy transitions.”
—Richard Bridle, IISDFossil fuel companies receive more than $370 billion per year in subsidies from world governments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculates the amount given to extractive industries as $5.2 trillion, including the cost of the yearly damage done by fossil fuel companies. In the U.S. in 2015, the government spent 10 times moreon the fossil fuel industry than it did on education.
Renewable energy companies providing solar, wind, and hydropower electricity are given only $100 billion yearly.
“Public money is far better spent delivering the clean energy transition than propping up the fossil fuel industry,” said Richard Bridle, senior policy adviser for IISD, in a statement. “All countries should be looking to identify where swaps can kick-start their clean energy transitions.”
In 2009, countries at the G20 summit agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but 10 years later, the economies have made little progress.
In the Democratic primary debates on Tuesday and Wednesday, both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden called for an end to the subsidies.
On social media on Thursday, the global climate action group 350.org highlighted recent comments from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said in May, “What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money—which means our money—to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word: to destroy the world.”
Yup. What @UN Secretary General said about fossil fuel subsidies! Even just 10% of fossil fuel subsidies could fund the rapid and just renewable energy revolution the world needs. What are we waiting for? >> https://t.co/COvSY8qFnh #GreenNewDeal #climatestrike pic.twitter.com/HndnpOqxYB
— 350 dot org (@350) August 1, 2019
Contrary to the claims of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the U.S. and other leaders aligned with fossil fuel industries abroad, even with less financial assistance from governments, the renewable energy sector is growing.
Renewable energy sources are expected to provide nearly 30 percent of electricity by 2023, up from 24 percent in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that natural gas and coal power fell by 7.7 and 2.5 percent, respectively, between 2016 and 2017, while solar, wind, and hydropower saw gradual growth.
Swapping subsidies for extractive industries for assistance that would go to sustainable energy companies would quickly “tip the balance,” Bridle told The Guardian.
The switch would turn renewables “from a technology that is slowly growing to one that is instantly the most viable and can replace really large amounts of generation. It goes from being marginal to an absolute no-brainer.”
The IMF estimates that completely ending fossil fuel subsidies would cut global emissions by a quarter while reducing the number of premature deaths due to pollution by half.
“The reform of subsidies alone is not enough to meet global emissions targets, but it is a good first step,” Bridle said. “Ultimately, the cost of each energy source should reflect its social and environmental impacts. That means increasing taxes on dirty energy and redirecting subsidies to align with government priorities.”
‘Should Send Shockwaves Across the Nation’: Grave Warnings as McConnell Accelerates Right-Wing Takeover of US Courts
“Senate Republicans will stop at nothing to stack the courts with partisan judges who will push their radical agenda through at any cost.”
By: Jake Johnson
The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed 13 of President Donald Trump’s lifetime judicial nominees this week, a major victory in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s years-long effort to reshape the nation’s courts and drag them further to the right for decades to come.
The breakneck speed with which McConnell has ushered young—and often unqualified—right-wing judges through the Senate confirmation process “should send shockwaves across the nation,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights tweetedWednesday.
“Republicans are counting on these judges to dismantle reproductive rights, marriage equality, and the separation of church and state, and also to shred the New Deal and regulations that protect people from corporate power.”
—Marge Baker, People for the American Way
But the rapid confirmation of Trump’s judicial picks this week has largely flown under the radar as America’s cable networks and newspapers have been dominated by coverage of the 2020 Democratic presidential debates.
Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy and government affairs at the Leadership Conference, issued a statement singling out Texas district court nominees Jeffrey Brown and Brantley Starr, who she said are “hostile to voting rights, LGBTQ equality, reproductive rights, and immigrant rights.”
“Additionally, neither one would even state that the bedrock civil rights decision Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided,” said Lucius, referring to the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ruled racial segregation of public schools unconstitutional.
Brown and Starr were just two of seven Trump judicial picks confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday.
“Senate Republicans will stop at nothing to stack the courts with partisan judges who will push their radical agenda through at any cost,” Lucius said. “In doing so, they are not only degrading our courts, but also endangering our democracy.”
It is unclear whether McConnell will succeed in pushing through all 19 of the judges he set out to confirm before the Senate breaks for recess at the end of the week, but progressives said the Kentucky Republican nevertheless did a lot of damage in just a few days—without much resistance from the Democratic Party.
Today, Democrats let another be confirmed by voice vote–not even bothering to insist on a roll-call vote.
Where is the floor? https://t.co/xmC5ICzZ7k
— Christopher Kang (@cdkang76) July 31, 2019
Marge Baker, executive vice president of progressive advocacy group People for the American Way, said in a statement Thursday that the “judges confirmed by the Senate this week include a number of alarming, narrow-minded elitists—including but not limited to nine nominees who would not say that they agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.”
“Republicans are counting on these judges to dismantle reproductive rights, marriage equality, and the separation of church and state,” said Baker, “and also to shred the New Deal and regulations that protect people from corporate power.”
McConnell and Trump’s ongoing transformation of the nation’s judiciary received very little attention during the two Democratic presidential debates this week.
In an interview on MSNBC Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who was on the debate stage in Detroit Wednesday night, accused Senate Democrats of not doing everything in their power to stop Trump’s judicial picks because they want to leave town for August recess.
“They’ve approved his judge selections so they can go on recess,” said Inslee.
“These are lifetime appointments,” Inslee added. “Stopping Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump from putting these conservative judges on the bench is more important than their vacation, frankly.”
Gov. Inslee hits Senate Dems for supporting Trump judges: "We have to stop giving him a pass. They've approved his judge selections so they can go on recess. These are lifetime appointments … It's more important than their vacation, frankly." pic.twitter.com/I0mloQB3sz
— Demand Justice (@WeDemandJustice) August 1, 2019
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Led by Ted Cruz, GOP Senators Call on Trump to Bypass Congress to Give Rich Americans Another Tax Cut
“This is the GOP long con in a nutshell. Trump blazes away with raw and hideous racism. Meanwhile, he and his party look for ways to ship yachtloads of cash to the super wealthy.”
By: Jake Johnson
A group of over 20 Republican senators on Monday urged President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department to bypass Congress to unilaterally hand the wealthiest Americans another massive tax cut.
According to Bloomberg, the Trump White House is “developing a plan” to cut taxes for the rich by indexing capital gains to inflation.
“Indexing capital gains would slash tax bills for investors when selling assets such as stock or real estate by adjusting the original purchase price so no tax is paid on appreciation tied to inflation,” Bloomberg reported last month.
The Republican senators called on Mnuchin to use his “authority to eliminate inflationary gains from the Department of the Treasury’s calculation of capital gains tax liability.”
This is the GOP long con in a nutshell. Trump blazes away with raw and hideous racism. Meanwhile, he and his party look for ways to ship yachtloads of cash to the super wealthy. Don’t let them get away w it.
Ted Cruz Demands Emergency Tax Cut for the Rich https://t.co/Z50EEDkRmY
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) July 30, 2019
Critics have questioned whether the White House has the authority to take such an action. As the New York Times reported last July—when the Trump administration first considered going around Congress to index capital gains to inflation—former President George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department determined the move “would be illegal.”
Chye-Ching Huang, director of federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Monday that 86 percent of the benefits of indexing capital gains to inflation would go to the top one percent.
This would add ~$100-200 billion to deficits
86% would go to the top 1%, with new loopholes for the wealthy.
— Chye-Ching Huang (@dashching) July 29, 2019
The GOP push for more tax cuts for the rich comes as the Trump administration is working to take food stamps from three million low-income Americans, Seth Hanlon, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, noted on Twitter.
It would truly be something if Trump cuts taxes for the rich by executive fiat right after cutting nutrition assistance for the poor by executive fiat. (See: https://t.co/tbanxnJF64) https://t.co/oqc9KLHPac
— Seth Hanlon (@SethHanlon) July 29, 2019
The Republicans sent their letter as mounting data shows Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut legislation, which took effect last year, has done virtually nothing for workers while further enriching wealthy Americans and large corporations.
Earlier this month, a group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sent their own letter (pdf) pressing Mnuchin to “reject reported plans to use questionable authority to—yet again—lavish tax cuts upon our country’s wealthiest, while middle class families and working people continue to see costs rise and wages stagnate.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and a dozen other senators.
“We remain concerned this administration’s relentless preoccupation with cutting taxes for our country’s wealthiest taxpayers while leaving behind middle class families and working people,” wrote the senators, “even to the extent that it would consider exceeding its legal authority to do so.”licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License