Governments across the G20 countries are estimated to be spending $88 billion every year subsidising exploration for fossil fuels. Their exploration subsidies marry bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for climate change. In effect, governments are propping up the development of oil, gas and coal reserves that cannot be exploited if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.
This report identifies billions of dollars in subsidies for fossil fuel exploration from the world's wealthiest countries. This government support for expanding oil, gas, and coal reserves continues despite a 2009 commitment by G20 countries to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, a pledge that has been repeatedly reiterated since then, including by G7 leaders in their June 2014 declaration.
This report provides an overview of energy subsidies in the UK, starting with an overview of the basic economics, then identifying the scale of subsidies in the UK, and finally comparing the UK position with other countries.
Ideally, a thorough study on energy subsidies would track, for each branch of the energy system, total income arising through energy taxes, and net off all public payments made for infrastructure, services (including regulatory functions, system balancing etc.) as well as the direct subsidies provided through price support mechanisms.
The UK operates 19 reactors that provided 15.7% of the country's electricity needs in 2010. The cost of supplying this electricity is cheap. The big six electricity suppliers make their profit from an industry which provides poor value for money to the taxpayer and leaves us with a toxic legacy that exceeds 1,000 lifetimes. Maintaining the infrastructure surrounding electricity supplied by nuclear fuels is prohibitively expensive. An argument can be made that all ancillary costs must be included in the generation cost of nuclear power in order to calculate a realistic cost per MWh.
Adapted from the report's introduction: