A new report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) estimates the cost of subsidizing a full transition to clean energy, and comes out with a figure that is only 10-30% of the subsidy presently given to the planet-destroying fossil fuel industries.
That is to say, a full green energy transition is a steal.
The coal/oil/gas sector currently rake in $370bn in global, annual subsidies.
"Almost everywhere, renewables are so close to being competitive that [a 10-30% subsidy swap] tips the balance, and turns them from a technology that is slowly growing to one that is instantly the most viable and can replace really large amounts of generation," said Richard Bridle of the IISD. "It goes from being marginal to an absolute no-brainer."
The transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean energy is already under way. Annual investment in renewables has been greater than that in fossil fuel electricity generation since 2008 and new renewable capacity has exceeded fossil fuel power each year since 2014.
But progress is slow compared with the urgency required, said Bridle. "There is no question that renewables can power the energy system," he said. "The question now is can we transition quickly enough away from fuels like coal, and subsidy reform is a very obvious step towards that." Very few ways of cutting emissions actually save governments money, he said.
Reforming Subsidies Could Pay for a Clean Energy Revolution: Report [International Institute for Sustainable Development]
Just 10% of fossil fuel subsidy cash 'could pay for green transition'