# The Case to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

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The continued existence of fossil fuel subsidies in a time of their almost universal condemnation reveals something about the governments that rule us, something pernicious, but also something all-too-predictable. Like no other area, they expose a gulf between rhetoric and action, a disconnect so stark that, if the risks it posed were less catastrophic, would almost be comical. Back in reality, though, the cognitive dissonance, cynicism, or whatever its cause, serves only to warm our planet and threaten all life.

## Vested interests

Which leads to the obvious question: why not simply just stop them? The answer, in short, is lobbying. To borrow the words of Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction, ‘these companies have mastered the art of corporate doublespeak - by boasting about their climate credentials while quietly using their lobbying firepower to sabotage the implementation of sensible climate policy and pouring millions into groups that engage in dirty lobbying on their behalf’. During the 113th Congress (the 5th and 6th years in Obama’s Presidency), the oil, gas, and coal companies spent a combined $350,587,282 on lobbying and campaign contributions, the efforts of which, according to the research group, InfluenceMap, were ‘overwhelmingly in conflict with the goals of the Paris agreement and designed to maintain the social and legal license to operate and expand fossil fuel operations’. Between 2016-2019, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total spent over$1 billion on lobbying ‘designed to control, delay, or block binding climate-motivated policy’. To gauge its success one need only look at the inclinations of the current US administration.

But things must change. Politics must better insulate itself from dirty money - the consequences of not phasing out subsidies are too dire. As Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, has said, failing to do so will mean countries fail to reach their climate targets - and down that path lies certain catastrophe. Once upon a time, it made sense for countries to support these industries, it was progressive, humane. That time, however, has now passed.