HLPF Side Event Explores Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform in Achieving Multiple SDGs
Photo by Patrick Hendry
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The discussions noted that 40% of global energy still comes from coal, which hampers achievement of SDG 7.

Initial analysis from an integrated fiscal model developed by IISD GSI shows that the effects of fossil fuel subsidy reform would contribute to cumulative savings of CO2 of 4.8 Gt from across all 26 countries.

Peter Messerli, Co-Chair, UN Global Sustainable Development Report, cautioned that transformation of the energy system needs to be handled with care.

10 July 2019: A side event at the 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) discussed how fossil fuel subsidy (FFS) reform can help to scale up climate ambition (SDG 13) and contribute to achievement of several other SDGs, including poverty reduction (SDG 1), health and well-being (SDG 3), energy (SDG 7) and responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

Initial findings were presented from an integrated fiscal model developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) to analyze the effects of FFS reform, fuel taxation, and resource reallocation to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The analysis shows that the effects of FFS reform would contribute to cumulative savings of carbon dioxide (CO2) of 4.8 gigatonnes (Gt) from across all 26 countries covered.

A focus on decarbonization pathways and access to energy for all is necessary to understand potential co-benefits, as well as trade-offs.

During a panel discussion exploring some challenges and opportunities of FFS reform, speakers noted that 40% of global energy still comes from coal, which hampers achievement of SDG 7. Peter Messerli, Co-Chair, UN Global Sustainable Development Report, emphasized that a focus on decarbonization pathways and access to energy for all is necessary to understand potential co-benefits, as well as trade-offs required, and cautioned that transformation of the energy system needs to be handled with care.

Highlighting parallels with agricultural subsidies reform, Satya Tripathi, Assistant UN Secretary General and Head of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) New York Office, noted how the Zero Budget Natural Farming method in India has helped to reduce subsidies for chemical fertilizers and farmers’ debts.

The discussions underscored the importance of linking FFS reform to transformation of the entire energy system. Noting that finance and inequalities remain at the core of the problem, participants provided suggestions on critical actions required, including: attaining more transparency, especially on producer subsidies; supporting governments to undertake self- and peer-review of subsidies; looking at opportunities for subsidy swaps; and considering co-benefits of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and including FFS reform in second generation Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The side event was convened by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, and co-sponsored by Costa Rica, New Zealand, Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFFsR), UNEP, and IISD GSI. IISD Reporting Services is providing coverage of selected side events during the 2019 HLPF. [IISD RS Coverage of the Side Event] [FFFsR Initiative] [IISD GSI]


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