Focus Corner

Subsidising waste, pollution and climate change

March 3rd, 2011 by   (View Author Profile)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has reported on investment in “green” sectors.  They believe that this would produce high growth, decoupled from intensive consumption.  I doubt if we will ever decouple high growth from intensive consumption because the “green” sector simply replaces one thing we are buying with another thing, rather than turning out consumer desirables for consumption.  However, two things stand out from the report of which I was not previously specifically aware, but of which I held suspicions.

1.   Globally the UNEP believes that the generation of heat and power by fossil fuel (excluding nuclear energy) is subsidised by $600 billion a year.  That subsidy dwarfs anything spent on the renewable industry by way of subsidy or incentive.  It is in effect tax collection devoted to increasing the rate of climate change and increasing pollution.
2.   Rewarding unsustainable fisheries (here the European Union is a major culprit) costs $20 billion a year.  I never knew that was the scale of the subsidies either.  This subsidises a way of reducing our seas into salt water deserts from our taxes.

If someone asks where the money to develop renewable energy is to come from the answer is simple; reduce subsidies for fossil fuels and stop subsidising unsustainable fishing.  There will be plenty of money left over.

Posted in Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, General, Green Business, Green Investment, Renewable Energy, Sustainable building. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

1 Response to “Subsidising waste, pollution and climate change”

  1. kieran says:

    Hi Robert,

    Yes these challenges are definitely immense. At All Electrical Recycling Ltd (Belfast) we believe there exists for society the possibility of creating a virtuous circle of recycling. So make IT components, recycle IT components, Make IT components recycle IT..etc. But the practical issues of making such a virtuous circle, are complex in and indeed they need to be worked out in every sector. Research funding for this would be very helpful. I think your suggestion then of diverting unsustainable subsidies as mentioned has much merit. And in particular, we should definitely all work to identify and reconfigure regional and local subsidies.



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