This morning the Financial Times posted an article (FT subscription needed to access) with a great infographic on global energy subsidies. The infographic orders countries by the biggest subsidizers of fossil-fuels and the biggest subsidizers of renewable energy. Check it out here. (no subscription needed to view)
The Financial Times uses IEA data from 2013 for the world map infographic, but if you want to explore the data further you can find 2012, 2013 and 2014 country-by-country data for fossil fuel subsidies in this spreadsheet.
One final note, the Financial Times piece pegs global energy subsidies in 2014 at $490 billion for fossil fuels and $135 billion for renewable energy (including biofuels). While this estimate puts global fossil fuel subsidies at a little more than 3.5X renewable energy subsidies, it is not the only estimate out there. The International Monetary Fund published a working paper last year attempting to account for environmental damage and other external costs of fossil fuels not captured in traditional cost calculations. They rightly interpret these external costs as another form of subsidy. Thus, their more inclusive subsidy definition estimates the global fossil fuel subsidy dramatically higher than the IEA, at $4.9 trillion in 2013, and a projected $5.3 trillion in 2015. Of course, arriving at these specific numbers relies on several big assumptions and have been met with more than a little skepticism from some, mostly those in the fossil fuel industry.
Ultimately, there is no denying there are external costs of fossil fuels not captured in traditional accounting. In addition, there is no denying these costs are substantial. Do they amount to $4.5 trillion? I’m not sure. They might. Check out the paper here and decide for yourself.