Despite climate pledges, G20 coal subsidies rise, say energy researchers

(Reuters News, 25 Jun 2019) While support for coal mining has fallen, other subsidies for coal-fired power have risen substantially, researchers said.

Despite promising a decade ago to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the world's leading economies more than doubled subsidies to coal-fired power plants over three years, putting climate goals at risk, energy researchers said Tuesday.

Between 2014 and 2017, G20 governments more than halved direct support for coal mining, from $22 billion to about $10 billion on average each year, according to a report by the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a think tank.

But over the same period they boosted backing for coal-fired power plants - particularly supporting construction of the plants in other, often poorer nations - from $17 billion to $47 billion a year, the report noted.

China and Japan - which will host a G20 summit later this week in Osaka - were the biggest providers of public finance for coal-fired power, followed by South Korea and India, it said.

While spending from national budgets on coal fell, as did tax breaks for it, other forms of support - from development finance institutions, export-credit agencies and state-owned enterprises - soared, the report said.

"You can see they're pretty much exporting the dirty energy systems to countries in much earlier stages of their development," said Ipek Gencsu, a researcher at ODI and a lead author of the report.

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Reuters News, 25 Jun 2019: Despite climate pledges, G20 coal subsidies rise, say energy researchers