A new report shows that governments are spending $1.8 trillion every year on subsidies that are harmful to the environment – 6,000 times more than what is spent on environmentally friendly initiatives.
The report published by Earth Track was prepared by its founder Doug Koplow and senior fellow with the Global Subsidies Initiative of the International Institute for Sustainable Development Ronald Steenblik.
Their work is largely focused on analyzing government programs that have contributed or even accelerated the depletion of natural resources, habitat loss and pollution around the world.
Its aim, as the authors state, is to reignite the conversation surrounding subsidies that are harmful to the environment and outline the role that, with the help of transparent reporting and subsidy reform, businesses can play in bringing about positive change.
The research also comes with a grave warning that humanity may very well be on the way to extinction at the hands of its own damaging subsidies.
And the subsidies have a vast range, spanning from unsustainable groundwater pumping in the Middle East to tax breaks for beef production in South America.
These efforts have been defined as working directly against climate goals.
So, what of these harmful subsidies?
As a possible solution for this issue, the research authors propose repurposing a significant portion of the $1.8 trillion in subsidies to support environmentally conscious policies and efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.
The report goes even further to set an exact deadline for governments to come together and set a common target to eliminate harmful subsidies by 2030.
This proposition is said to be brought up at the upcoming Cop15 summit that will take place in China later this year.
Hopes are that during this gathering, companies will disclose the subsidies they benefit from as part of environmental disclosure reporting and a “Paris agreement for nature” will be signed.
Lack of transparency between subsidy recipients and governments has been identified as the main reason why the figures stated in the report are likely to be highly underestimated.
The report has already received the approval and support of Christiana Figueres, who was leading the UN climate change convention when the Paris agreement was signed.