Old gas pumps

Despite plenty of pledges to reduce them in the coming years, fossil fuel consumption subsidies rose all across the globe in 2010, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA estimates that subsidies that artificially lower the cost of fossil fuels – and also impede development of renewables – hit $409 billion in 2010, an increase of nearly $110 billion over 2009 levels. The IEA says that the amount of total worldwide subsidies (assisting with production and consumption) on fossil fuels in 2010 will reach half a trillion dollars. What's even worse is that the IEA predicts that fossil fuel subsidies will soar to $660 billion in 2020. So, yeah, the near-worldwide phase-out pledge has had virtually no affect on those subsidies, according to the IEA.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol points out that some progress, at least on the consumption side, has been made in several key countries, including India, China and Russia. But here in the States, progress is not a word the IEA associates with our fossil fuel subsidies.

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