Press release

IISD's GSI says pressure from 'Friends' could be catalyst for G20 action on fossil fuel subsidy reform

June 9, 2010
WINNIPEG—June 10, 2010—The International Institute for Sustainable Development's Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) is encouraged that increasing pressure from the international community may be the catalyst needed to ensure fossil fuel subsidy reform is high on the climate change agenda of the G20 summit in Toronto this month.

This follows a GSI meeting in Paris last week, where New Zealand announced it will spearhead a campaign of support for reform with the establishment of the Friends of Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Reform. The informal group's membership is expected to comprise a small number of interested, credible and committed developed and developing non-G20 countries.

The Friends are committed to working with the G20 as it tackles a politically and economically complex initiative for reform that offers an effective means to address climate change mitigation and develop trade and environment policies for sustainable development.

"Despite the clear economic and environmental benefits, as well as the urgent need for governments to reduce debt, there have been very few signs of progress of fossil-fuel subsidy reform," said Mark Halle, IISD director of trade and investment.

"The new Friends group comes at a crucial time when more political leadership is needed to champion the reform process" said Halle.

GSI has recently issued a comprehensive, five-part assessment of fossil-fuel subsides and estimates governments are spending about US$500 billion a year on policies that undermine sustainable development. Untold Billions: Fossil-fuel subsidies, their impacts and the path to reform provides necessary research and analysis to support the commitment by the G20 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to phase out inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies.

"Fossil-fuel subsidy reform offers real opportunities for G20 countries to advance more global economic and climate change agendas, while reducing expenditures at home," Halle said. "The establishment of the Friends demonstrates the high-level interest and discussions on this important issue. It is important not to lose the momentum at this critical time."


For more information, please contact IISD media and communication officer, Nona Pelletier, Phone: +1-(204)-958-7740, Cell: +1-(204)-962-1303 or GSI senior economist Peter Wooders +41 (76)-430-5026 or GSI research officer Kerryn Lang, Phone: +41-(76)-477-6659.

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.