Dana Nuccitelli: While we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground, America is giving the fossil fuel industry billions to extract more
Imagine that instead of taxing cigarettes, America subsidized the tobacco industry in order to make each pack of smokes cheaper.
A report from Oil Change International (OCI) investigated American energy industry subsidies and found that in 20152016, the federal government provided $14.7bn per year to the oil, gas, and coal industries, on top of $5.8bn of state-level incentives (globally, the figure is around $500bn). And the report only accounted for production subsides, excluding consumption subsidies (support to consumers to lower the cost of fossil fuel use another $14.5bn annually) as well as the costs of carbon and other fossil fuel pollutants.
At a time when we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, the federal and state governments are giving the industry tens of billions of dollars to make the production of their dirty, dangerous products more profitable.
We already have to leave tapped fossil fuels in the ground
Crucially, the OCI report noted that if we want to meet the Paris target of limiting global warming to less than 2C (and we do!), not only does the fossil fuel industry have stop developing new reserves, but some already-tapped reserves must be retired early.