Twitterstorming fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidey cf RenewablesAs  public pressure grows for cutting fossil fuel subsidies, activists are turning to social media to keep the heat on governments around the world.

Climate communicators are experimenting with fresh ways  to use the two dominant social media, Twitter and Facebook, to spread messages and organise action.  Click on Twitterstorm to learn what happened on June 18 and for  updates on the campaign to urge the Rio Earth Summit to end subsidies.Global fossil fuel subsidies in 2012 will likely top $775 billion, according to OilChange International. These subsidies encourage fossil fuel consumption, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Their impact is so big that the IEA’s Fatih Birol says ending fossil fuel subsidies could provide half the carbon savings needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

Surprisingly, wealthy OECD countries are not the worst offenders.    Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia have the highest subsidies, as this Guardian graph illustrates.

Exporters with large oil reserves, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, use subsidies to keep fuel and fertiliser cheap.   However analysis has shown that little of the subsidy reaches the poorest people, and there are more efficient ways to spread the wealth.

Poor countries like India have programs that make kerosine, the common cooking fuel, affordable for their poorest citizens. These countries will need assistance from wealthy countries so their poorest citizens can afford enough kerosine to cook every day.

The worst effect of fossil fuel subsidies is to dampen demand for renewables because it is hard for clean energy to compete against artificially cheap fossil fuels.

Organisations like 350.0rg are using Rio’s Earth Summit to press wealthy countries to remove their own subsidies and to give assistance to poor countries so they can reduce theirs.

You can add your voice to campaign petitions at, or Earthday Network.   And you can join the Twitterstorm planned for 18 June 2012.

It’s a storm caused by fossil fuel emissions, but it’s a good one.

By Gillian King. Cross-posted with permission from Thisness of a That.

Image: Campaign against climate change

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