HLPF Side Event Highlights the Potential of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform to Help Achieve SDGs
UN Photo/Kibae Park/Sipa Press
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Participants discussed fossil fuel subsidy reform as a cross-cutting issue that can synergize actions on the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.

During the side event, GSI launched a report titled, ‘Getting on Target: Accelerating Energy Access through Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform,’ which focuses on interlinkages between energy access and fossil fuel subsidies.

18 July 2018: On Wednesday, 18 July 2018, on the sidelines of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), a side event addressed the role of fossil fuel subsidy reform in helping achieve the SDGs, including through opportunities for financing and sustainable energy access.

The event was organized by the Government of New Zealand, in partnership with the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFFSR), the Governments of Finland and Switzerland, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI).

Panelists stressed: better targeting of subsidies and shifts towards renewable energy and energy efficiency; the urgency of shifting from a fossil fuel-based economy to a circular economy; and that fossil fuel subsidy reform is a cross-cutting issue, which can synergize actions on the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs.

Craig Hawke, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the UN, said his country views fossil fuel subsidy reform as a critical building block to achieving the SDGs, noting that subsidies often divert funds that might be used on other SDG priorities.

Removing fossil fuel subsidies could lower CO2 emissions by more than 20%.

During the side event, GSI launched a report titled, ‘Getting on Target: Accelerating Energy Access through Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform,’ which focuses on interlinkages between energy access and fossil fuel subsidies. Anna Zinecker, IISD, presented results of the report, highlighting: financial implications of fossil fuel subsidies; potential impacts of reform; and strategies to remove subsidies to increase energy access. She said that global subsidies are 7.5 times greater than the amount required for universal access to electricity and clean cooking.

Charles Arden-Clarke, Head, 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP), UN Environment, said removing fossil fuel subsidies could lower CO2 emissions by more than 20%. He described cases in which public revenues were mobilized from fossil fuel subsidy reform, including in Indonesia, where US$15 billion in savings was reinvested in infrastructure and poverty reduction programmes.

During the discussion, participants, inter alia, suggested addressing fossil fuel subsidy reform during HLPF 2019, linking it to SDG 13 (climate action), which will be reviewed during that meeting. [IISD RS Coverage of the Side Event on Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform] [FFFSR Website] [GSI Website][SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of fossil fuel subsidy reform news and events]


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