Press release

Governments Call for the Removal of Harmful Fossil-Fuel Subsidies

GENEVA—17 April 2015—A coalition of governments are calling for the phase-out of subsidies to fossil fuels in the lead-up to a major climate conference in Paris.

April 16, 2015

GENEVA—17 April 2015—A coalition of governments are calling for the phase-out of subsidies to fossil fuels in the lead-up to a major climate conference in Paris.

A group of eight countries known as the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform today released a Communiqué encouraging governments to prioritize the reform of fossil-fuel subsidies ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this year. The Friends, with the support of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, are encouraging other governments to endorse the statement. France today became the first country outside the Friends group to do so.

“By endorsing this Communiqué, we highlight the importance of fossil-fuel subsidy reform as a key climate change mitigation policy with clear economic, social and environmental benefits. I am proud that Denmark has been leading in supporting fossil-fuel subsidy reform through the past years and would hope for others to join our efforts going forward,” said Denmark's Minister of Trade and Development Cooperation, Mogens Jensen.  

Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, which make up the Friends group, point to the fact that fossil-fuel subsidies are harmful to the environment and economic development. Often fossil-fuel subsidies disproportionately benefit wealthier households, which consume more energy.   

“By launching this Communiqué we invite countries and other actors to come forward and publicly express their support to phasing out harmful fossil-fuel subsidies. The timing is right with Paris on the horizon and a growing number of countries considering or undertaking reform,” said New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Climate Change Issues, Tim Groser.   

“Fossil-fuel subsidy reform has both economic and climate benefits. Reform will free up financing for sustainable development. Norway will contribute 100 million Norwegian kroner (app. US$ 12.5 million) to fossil-fuel subsidy reform, and we strongly encourage other countries to increase their efforts and support the call for reform,” said Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende.

Recent years have seen significant progress to advance fossil-fuel subsidy reform; however, these subsidies are still a huge burden on public finances in many countries. In 2013, governments around the world spent more than US$ 548 billion on fossil-fuel subsidies. 

By keeping prices to consumers artificially low, fossil-fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, disadvantage renewable energy and drain scarce public resources that could be better spent on other sustainable development goals.  

The elimination of fossil-fuel subsidies would make a significant contribution to the goal of keeping average temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“The evidence is actually quite clear. Estimations show that eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by between 6 and 13 per cent by 2050 and can be done without harming the poor,” said Swiss Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann.

The Communiqué is being presented to the public by Ministers from the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform and France at the World Bank on Friday April 17 at 4:00 p.m. in Washington, D.C. 

The Communiqué  is available here:

A new motion graphic on fossil-fuel subsidy reform and the Paris Climate Change Conference is available here: 

Hashtag: #fossilfuelsubsidyreform

For more information please contact:

Damon Vis-Dunbar at or +41 22 917 8848 (in Switzerland).

Lasse Christensen at or +41 78 873 8978 (currently in the United States)

Sumeep Bath at or +1 (204) 958 7740 (in Canada)  

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.

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