Christiana Figueres: a very important strategic moment to begin to bring down fossil fuel subsidies



One myth we are dispelling is that we have to choose between development and carbon emissions and that myth I think we are increasingly dispelling. The myth we are dispelling is that it is only with this type of subsidy that the poor can be benefitted. That is a myth. Unfortunately it has been interpreted as common practice.

When you really look at the numbers, you see that it is those with the highest consumption of fuels, who are certainly not the poorest, who are actually benefiting the most. So I do think this moment of COP21 to puncture this balloon once and for all to not let that myth go forward. It is one of the most detrimental myths in this effort.

We have heard from all of you that since the fall in oil prices, there is a very important strategic moment to begin to bring down fossil fuel subsidies and we are seeing it in an increasing number of countries. That is good news.

I would like to also shine light of what could happen if we don’t walk firmly down that path. We could see ourselves in a cross roads here of either, continuing to decrease fossil fuel subsidies, or be tempting to increase subsidies here of those who are losing income right now because of the low prices.

So it is a very very crucial moment that we are in, which we really must decide which way we are going because if we increase subsidies now then we are really locked in for several decades. This is the moment in which we can unlock ourselves, free ourselves there, and in so doing, the guiding star that we must have is my first point, we must be guided by benefitting those at the bottom of the pyramid in every country, in every country that is doing this. Certainly in developing countries first but also in industrialised countries. Those that consume the least need to be the ones that are benefitting and we know this is possible because we have very good examples of countries that are doing this.

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