Why $77 Billion a Year in Public Finance for Oil, Gas, and Coal Is Even Worse Than It Sounds

(Friends of the Earch, Washington, 28 May 2020) Right after the mostly-rich and powerful G2O countries signed the Paris Agreement with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, they went home and continued with the business-as-usual public finance policies that directly undermined this goal. The world’s largest commercial banks are financing almost US$700 billion a year for oil, gas, and coal, with US$77 billion coming from public finance for fossil fuels, of which US$40 billion comes from ECAs, vs only US$2.9 billion from ECAs for clean energy... The G20 export credit agencies (ECAs), development finance institutions (DFIs), and the multilateral development banks (MDBs) FOE was able to track in its new report are still only a small fraction of all public finance for energy. Worldwide, 693 public banks own assets worth $38 trillion, and there is an overall estimated $73 trillion in public finance assets when central banks, sovereign wealth funds, pensions, and multilateral banks are also included. This also does not include direct subsidies through fiscal and tax measures that governments provide — for the G20 this support for fossil fuels is estimated at $80 billion a year. But as G20 governments prepare historic levels of public finance in response to COVID-19 we need them to break from the past and make sure this money goes to a just and sustainable recovery. For example, Spain has (alongside other promising measures from a wealth tax to an end to any new licenses for oil and gas) mandated their State and public institutions to divest from any holdings in companies whose activities include the extraction, refining and processing of fossil fuels.