I see what George has done here

Clearly, \”neo-liberal\” isn\’t strong enough now:

Václav Klaus, the ultra-neoliberal Czech president,

Ultra-neoliberal now, eh?

But the sleight of hand is here:

Worldwide, subsidies for fossil fuels are 12 times greater than subsidies for renewable energy. Many of the most generous handouts are awarded by rightwing governments (think of the money lavished on the oil industry under George Bush).

Umm, no, you see it\’s not money lavished on the oil industry by George Bush that makes up those fossil fuel subsidies. Very much not so actually.

I can’t find the full IEA report but I have found the slides used to illustrate it. Here.

Last page. Who are the subsidisers? In order, Iran,  Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, China, Egypt, Venezuela, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Iraq, Uzbekistan, UAE and so on….

Absolutely none of the advanced industrialised countries are providing sufficient subsidy to even make the list. Only 8 of the G-20 do ….and none of the rich ones.

So, you see what they’ve done? They’ve compared what poor countries do to subsidise fossil fuels with what rich countries do to subsidise renewables….and yet left us with the impression that it’s all rich countries doing both.

Think for a moment: they’re comparing $50 billion with $550 billion, as if it is therefore obvious that we (the US, UK etc) should therefore both reduce fossil subsidies and increase renewables. But what on earth does Iran subsidising petrol have to do with how much the UK or Germany should subsidise solar PV?

Impressively done George but horribly misleading. Iran is the biggest subsidy merchant, over $100 billion a year. What\’s that got to do with Shrub?

4 thoughts on “I see what George has done here”

  1. Well the only thing Mr. Bush could have done about it was engineer a regime change- so presumably it was GW’s failure to invade Iran that earns him the opprobrium.

  2. You see, we shouldn’t stand in the way of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it makes them burn more oil.

    Some of the most way out Republicans in the USA are some of the most fervent supporters of subsidies for alternatives, for reasons of energy security.

    Meanwhile, many a left winger is in favour of coal subsidies, to support the workers.

    Meanwhile, I am an ultra-neoliberal who thinks that all subsidies are crap.

  3. I wasn’t directly involved in the IEA work, but was part of the team that produced the joint report for the G-20 on fossil-fuel subsidies. Your suspicions are mostly right, Tim — i.e., that the IEA numbers refer to developing and emerging economies — but be careful in drawing any conclusions from your observation that “Absolutely none of the advanced industrialised countries are providing sufficient subsidy to even make the list. Only 8 of the G-20 do ….and none of the rich ones.”

    The reason for that is the way that the IEA measures its subsidies to fossil fuels, which more properly and acurately should be called “fossil-fuel consumption subsidies”. That is because they look only for negative price gaps — i.e., situations in which the domestic consumer price is lower than some reference price (usually, an adjusted import or export price). This approach does not pick up subsidies on the production side (except indirectly), nor subsidies to consumers that are provided, for example, through vouchers or direct payments (e.g., programs such as the United States’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP).

    Unfortunately, work is only beginning on estimating the value of other types of subsidies to fossil fuels not captured by the IEA’s method. My personal estimate is that these may sum up to around $100 billion a year worldwide. But that is only a very rough, order-of-magnitude estimate.

    So, in short, the Bloomberg “study” (only a press release has been issued so far) compares apples and oranges. Regretably, that fact has been lost on most of the bloggers who have cited it.

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