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By Elias Hinckley on May 21, 2015 with 56 responses

The IMF Just Destroyed the Best Argument Against Clean Energy


For more than a decade, fossil fuel supporters have insisted that new clean energy technologies like wind and solar are far “too expensive” to replace our traditional fossil fuel dominated energy industries. A recent report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has put a price on the direct and indirect subsidies that support fossil fuels as a counter argument to the renewables are “too expensive” message.

The numbers are staggering. The expected subsidy for fossil fuels during 2015 is projected to be $5.3 TRILLION – for one year! This means that approximately 6.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP) will be dedicated in 2015 to just subsidizing our use of fossil fuels. Or as The Guardian pointed out in its summary of the IMF report, taxpayers are paying $10 MILLION per minute globally in subsidies for fossil fuels.

The idea that fossil fuels benefit from both direct and indirect subsidies has been around for years, but analysis has generally been done in pieces (some of it done very well – Nancy Pfund and Ben Healy at DBL Investors published an excellent analysis of direct subsidies in the U.S. a couple years back) or without complete data robust enough to stand up to critique. The IMF report looks at direct incentives, local pollution and public health effects, climate changes, and a host of other costs to arrive at its projected subsidy number.

IMF’s numbers are already being attacked. UK climate economist Nicholas Stern questioned the report for vastly underpricing the cost of climate change, and Brad Plummer at Vox outlined some of the odd items that arguably shouldn’t have been included in the calculation. Regardless of whether the IMF report gets to exactly the right number, the report provides a very credible starting point to argue over the right value to place on fossil fuel subsidies, and will be a baseline to begin rethinking the right pace for our global transition to clean energy.

According to the report, the largest subsidy will be for coal, largely because of the enormously underpriced effects of emissions and other environmental costs on public health and local resources – although the global climate impact is very significant as well. A real world demonstration of these costs can be seen in China right now with its massive build-out of coal generation rapidly coming to a close and the nation making a hard pivot towards clean energy in the face of deteriorating air quality and spiraling health costs from pollution.

The vast portion of the remaining fossil fuel subsidies will be to support petroleum. More petroleum subsidies will be in the form of direct supports, especially among oil producing countries, but the indirect costs were again significant (and curiously the report seems to leave out military costs dedicated to maintaining regular supply of crude to global markets, which have been long identified as a very significant subsidy).

Governments around the globe are struggling with the practical and economic realities of an accelerating energy transition away from fossil fuels, as well as the incredibly challenging politics surrounding these markets. The presence of a well respected financial institution, like the IMF, measuring the enormously ignored, but very real, costs of fossil fuel use will be important in shaping these discussions.

This report alone won’t end the constant claims that clean energy is “too expensive.” There have been remarkable declines in the cost of wind and solar power over the past decade. Add the breakthroughs in storage, electrification of vehicles, and promises of economically competitive new nuclear technologies (which will accelerate when investors have a clear and accurate price target for these alternatives) and the pace of global change could be revolutionary.

By putting hard data on the real price of the energy status quo (a lesson being lived in real time by Chinese authorities facing massive new costs from its overzealous coal fleet expansion), the report allows us to seriously consider the economic reality of the currently distorted and inaccurate marketplace. A better baseline, even a remotely accurate one, combined with the economic reality that clean energy has become stunningly more economic over the past decade, should re-write the fundamentals of the discussion about our energy future.

This article originally appeared in the Energy Finance Report.

  1. By bigterguy on May 22, 2015 at 8:46 am

    This review, and the report it considers, are mere political harangues masquerading as technical analysis.

    The subsidies to fossil fuels are calculated from what it calls ‘efficient energy prices’. Efficient energy prices include 3 items: cost of supply, cost of ‘externalities,’ and a consumption tax. The cost of supply is pretty straightforward – it is what we pay for electricity or gasoline. The externalities include a ‘corrective’ tax that is supposed to take into account all the damages done by the use of fossil energy. The consumption tax is what the authors think we should pay for the privilege of living in the world.

    Traffic jams, global warming, vehicle crashes, and other pollutants are part of the externalities. These costs are magically invented with no basis in objective reality. No attempt is made to account for the positive aspects of increased access to energy. For example, how many lives are saved by the availability of ambulances to take people to hospitals? How many trillions of manhours are saved by people moving rapidly to and from their workplaces? How many millions of people are saved from freezing to death by the availability of cheap heat sources? How many trillions of tons of additional foodstuffs are produced due to the increase in CO2 (their food) in the atmosphere? How many millions of homes are build of more robust materials, saving lives and providing comfort, due to the availability of cheap energy for the production of concrete, glass, and steel?

    The consumption tax is nonsense as well since, in the US at least, energy companies pay exorbitant sums for the rights to extract oil and gas. These payments are figured on a tract basis, not on the amount of material recovered – that is taxed again when one purchases it. And the federal tax is about 3x the profit margin of the oil companies. This analysis is backwards – the oil companies are really subsidizing the government.

    The carbon factor is the most pernicious because the impact of CO2 on the planet is so poorly understood and this factor is multiplied in all the other factors. Producing a number of charts and tables may provide a veneer of analytical rigor for the uncritical reader, but the underlying nonsense is still just that, nonsense.

    • By Robert Rapier on May 22, 2015 at 10:31 am

      I read an article yesterday that emphasized those points. The grossly misuse the term “subsidy” in the analysis:

      • By Elias Hinckley on May 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

        Yes – I have updated to address this – basically we can fight over the right # (and agree on the vehicle specific costs as Brad pointed out in the Vox piece) – but that is what we should be discussing, what is (and how to calculate the correct number).

        • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm

          Meanwhile the pollute for free market failure continues at the behest of all right wing Corporate Socialists.

          • By Forrest on September 21, 2015 at 7:39 am

            I see you have roughly 27,000 posts on Discuss. Not much time to read, ha. So, full of hate full retorts. Not very constructive. I searched some of your overused phrases. Pointed me to Ralph Nader interview with RT in Moscow. “When is the U.S. going to have a revolution?” “Living Wage”, “Corporate Fascist”, “Community Organizer” and the other talking points of far left supporters. I listened to Ralph Nader for his entire political career. He has an invented slant or take on world events within conspiracy explanations. He is much like John Kerry, whom made famous by spouting left propaganda within a commanding and convincing speech, Just enough truth to not be labeled a liar, but totally false portrayal that unless wrapped up in political protection would have quickly labeled untruthful. The left has good talking points, just to much conspiracy and inaccuracies. It’s emotional rhetoric designed to appeal to those in desire of quick easy solutions. Like the accusation of media not working in behest of nation for Iraq war. That’s a talking point right out of NPR Diane Rheem show. They urged all to quickly end the national harmony and invited anyone with opposing viewpoint to spout off. They had no credible info, just a exercise to do the opposite as they typically operate currently. Under Democratic CIC they take the opposite tack. Disgraceful Journalism, nothing more than another branch of politics. And yes you would have less propaganda coming from Fox News, because they balance some of the typical Left Monopoly of misinformation.

            • By FNLED on September 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

              Another supporter of the pollute for free Corporate Socialism of externalities aren’t ya?

            • By Forrest on September 21, 2015 at 9:55 am

              Do even know what that means?

            • By FNLED on September 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

              Do I need to explain it to you ?

            • By Forrest on September 21, 2015 at 7:07 pm

              Yes, you do as the phrase is vague and pointless.

            • By FNLED on September 21, 2015 at 7:41 pm

              You’re not familiar with economic terms?

            • By Forrest on September 22, 2015 at 6:06 am

              More than familiar, I know what they mean.

            • By FNLED on September 22, 2015 at 12:43 pm

              If you know what they mean how can they be vague and pointless?

            • By Forrest on September 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

              Economic terms have definitions, your use of them is pointless.

            • By FNLED on September 22, 2015 at 1:33 pm

              You support the socialism of externalities yes or no?

            • By Forrest on September 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

              Ok. I will just guess on what your trying to communicate. Read this link as it explains the economic thinking of an Externality.

              The last paragraph sentence, “Private enterprise is fully capable of awful screw ups. Both theory and
              practice indicate that its screw ups are less pervasive and more easily
              corrected than those of government enterprises.”

              So, I can imagine nothing more damaging to country than empowering EPA to start externality accounting and assaying economic activity indirect costs. If one thinks GW is a big brother reach to control the private sector this thinking will close the loop and make the country a fascist state. Leave it to the Left to attempt such a crazy cost accounting. Can you imagine the corruption attractants and faulty assumptions made. One would need another black box computer from NASA to magically ascertain the faulty answer yet it a good trick to avoid sunlight disinfectant of peer review. This magic box could be the just juice for elitist to govern.

              You post meaningless quips and demand useless answers. Yes or no.

            • By FNLED on September 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm

              Stop your dishonest running from the simple yes/ no question

              Do you support the continued socialism of spillover costs and the resulting market failure that the coal burning energy industry has used since it’s inception?
              Yes or no?

            • By Forrest on September 23, 2015 at 7:16 am

              Your attempting or baiting me per dishonest debate tactics. You offer a discussion, then pivot to yes or no answer and your full of insults. The above sentence, at least, explains better, your verbiage of economic terms use.
              I don’t agree with your premise. It’s faulty logic to define historical use of coal power per socialized cost. You and I don’t know the values exchanged as we didn’t live back then. If suffering from lack of electricity production, I would image customers would have put up with a lot of coal pollution. Same with fire wood comfort for cave men whom latter smelled like smoke. The coal industry was promoted (probably to max) to produce power per the desperate need and wants of open market. They made the all necessary profit to accomplish such at the blessing of consumers. At that point and time of history, technology and science knew little of cleaning up pollutants and harm they inflicted. Even if they did, it might have changed little when comparing cost required to accomplish. Left leaning mentality often make the mistake to compare modern technology, mindsets, and comfortable living standards to the decision making of historic events and leadership. Often they make a dishonest evaluation of historical figure and forget the advantage of knowing history and our success. If I could have thorn you back in a time machine, you would acted likewise. You are no smarter than your grand parents. Read the link to understand open markets operation and the assumption you present is false, “market failure”. Consumer and producer (seller) received what they wanted and at the cost agreed upon.
              Think in terms of modern day internet use and the regulation free zone to make it flourish. Your liberal grand kids will probably condemn such actions, because of some modern day thinking that could have improved the internet. How about all the corruption and wealth created by Steve Jobs or Bill Gates per the customer wants to purchase their product. We (and gov’t) blessed their profitable no compete monopoly path to steal technology and avoid regulation per the desire to promote the industry. Same happened upon gov’t regulations pushing poor people into housing, internet bubble, low cost of money for stock market wealth, etc. Gov’t has a poor record of market manipulation. They need to do the minimal, what they do best, and back off. My post is drifting into higher level of economic understanding and I believe you have such a mindset and bias….just hopeless.

            • By FNLED on September 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

              You don’t think we cant measure the mercury in our lakes Forrest?
              In the bellies of the fish we can only eat a couple of today because of their toxic levels?

              Are you really this uninformed?

            • By Forrest on September 23, 2015 at 3:01 pm

              Are you really this ignorant? To think it’s that simple.

              Most of our mercury comes from international sources. Everyone nowadays knows mercury is bad for health, once it enters biological system. Sitting on ground, lake bottom muck, not so much. It is a natural substance created by nature and readily found in wide array of materials. As I understand the coal combustion technology they are continually inventing improved scrubbers and processes to minimize the pollutant. Our modern coal power plants almost pollution free except for CO2 and the environmentalist will agree with that statement. The older generation and old technology plants should be scheduled to update or replacement, but our worst coal plants are way better than typical offshore coal plants. Your problem lies out of U.S. jurisdiction. No matter what your liberal media informs you, it’s extremely difficult to know true cost to society and assess that cost to fuel sources. Besides, what’s the value? Easier to just regulate mercury emissions to acceptable levels. Can you imagine the gov’t bureaucracy cost to tabulate, price, and keep track of all emissions by business. I just read the air quality within U.S. is poor in certain geographical areas and mostly due to small open combustion fires. Also, small engines emissions are comparable to our light vehicle transportation. So, your problem may be with citizens and not business. I’ve read municipalities pollute more than agriculture and usually get a free pass on storm water. Many citizens can burn raw coal in wood stove or spin off lead paint into household and wind. If business tried that 60 Minutes would be reporting a national outrage.
              Fire burns down forest and destroys homes, kills people, destroy habitat ? Yet we still use fire and wood. Who to access that cost to? It’s just a nutty left idea to empower their politics much like GW has done. I can imagine the fee for wood burning at the campsite.

            • By FNLED on September 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

              ” Our modern coal power plants almost pollution free ”

              Laughable wrong.

            • By FNLED on September 24, 2015 at 12:57 pm

              You seem to be arguing that no matter how much coal industry damage costs you want to allow them to Socialize those costs.

              That makes you nothing more than a Corporate Socialist Forrest.
              Willing to allow Socialism of Externalities for polluters while you decry any form of Socialism for anyone else.

              That makes you a silly hypocrite and lose you credibility Forrest.
              Do you really support Socialism of the Costs of pollution like Mercury and Sulpher Dioxide Forrest?


            • By FNLED on September 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

              I can only eat 4 Walleye a week from lakes in the upper Midwest Forrest or I risk toxic buildup that can kill me.

              Do you want to Socialize those costs onto me and the environment and let the polluters off the hook for responsibility of any of those costs Forrest?

              Are you really this much of a Corporate Socialist, Forrest?

            • By FNLED on September 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm

              You want to blame citizens and leave business off the hook.

              And it matches that you would allow Socialism of Externalities for business, while you decry Socialism of any type for citizens, Forrest.

              You seem to be a committed Corporate Socialist, Forrest.

              Why don’t we just leave it at that?

            • By FNLED on September 24, 2015 at 1:24 pm

              You are still dishonestly running from a simple question.

            • By Bodhisattva on February 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm

              Notice how the advocate of socialism (FNLED) keeps calling YOU a socialist?

              He’s several cans short a six pack.

              In fact I’m thinking he may not even have one full one left.

            • By FNLED on September 24, 2015 at 1:08 pm

              ” It’s faulty logic to define historical use of coal power per socialized cost. ”

              You couldn’t find a way to coherently explain what this made up nonsense means if your life depended on it

            • By FNLED on September 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

              You said you knew these economic terms yet you had to look up what an Externality was.

              Are you being honest in any way here?

            • By FNLED on September 22, 2015 at 10:26 pm

              “Can you imagine the corruption attractants and faulty assumptions made. One would need another black box computer from NASA to magically ascertain the faulty answer yet it a good trick to avoid sunlight disinfectant of peer review. This magic box could be the just juice for elitist to govern.”

              Meaningless quip.

            • By FNLED on September 21, 2015 at 9:20 am

              Ready for a discussion?

            • By Bodhisattva on February 10, 2016 at 6:57 pm

              FNLED isn’t very smart.

              In fact he’s the opposite of smart.

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      “the US at least, energy companies pay exorbitant sums for the rights to extract oil and gas”

      Baseless assertion.

      They get away with our common resources for a pittance in royalties and taxes

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      The “carbon factor” isn’t just based on co2 impact.

      You Corporate Socialists all act as if carbon pollution like mercury in my fish I need to eat doesn’t exist.

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      “, but the underlying nonsense is still just that, nonsense.”

      Translated- Science is too hard so you will just deny it.

    • By Mary Brown on January 19, 2016 at 1:29 am

      The amount of man generated CO2 in the atmosphere is within the statistical error of most reports! In other words they don’t have a clue!

  2. By Russ Finley on May 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    We really don’t have an environmentally superior alternative for oil, so the subsidy argument seems a moot point in that case. We surely don’t want corn ethanol or palm biodiesel to scale up because they are worse than oil in many ways. Electric cars are starting to make tiny inroads into the market but they constitute only a fraction of a single percent of car sales. Coal on the other hand, has many competitors, and can be replaced.

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      Hemp based ethanol/biodiesel is environmentally superior to petroleum based fuel, Corn ethanol and palm biodiesel.

    • By Bodhisattva on February 10, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      Electric cars still need to have their batteries charged… and they’re popular in places that the worst fossil fuels are used to produce that energy.

      I would be for fossil fuel alternatives that meet the right criteria: Always available on demand is a key requirement. Two ‘green’ sources are nuclear and hydro power. Unfortunately the same people who hate fossil fuels generally hate them as well.

    • By BasM on March 26, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Continue the subsidy on oil because there is no superior alternative is harmful for society. Car owners (me too) then continue to use the car more easily, which implies more people are killed by a.o. the Particulate Matter the driving car brings in the air.

      So we should tax car fuel so high that all costs are covered (which I estimate will be ~$10/liter or ~$40/gallon).
      People will then drive more quiet in order to use less fuel, buy economy cars,
      switch to (E-)bikes, public transport, E-cars, etc.

  3. By Russ Finley on May 22, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    From DotEarth, five years ago:

    There’s no surprise in this, but a new survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance comparing subsidies for fossil fuels with those for renewable energy sources finds a glaring gulf — with the fuels of convenience getting around 10 times the advantages around the world as non-polluting energy sources. [5:38 p.m. | Updated The perils of blogging on three hours of red-eye sleep became readily apparent when many comment contributors noted that the most important comparison is subsidies per unit of energy produced. Thanks, all.]

  4. By Forrest on May 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Notice how the posts start with new definitions or premises that attempt to stall the discussion to their favorite solution. This is Elias point, to evaluate cost within a broad spectrum. Traditional ROI and tax payer subsidy evaluations may be inadequate or at least not the final word. For example, back upon fuel industry development Henry Ford fostered developed of ethanol fuel per his desire’s to help struggling farm community. He knew ethanol was a perfect fuel and easily processed within small business for local value to economy and distribution. Henry was accredited with the first ethanol plant construction. How would one evaluate the history of ROI and tax payer subsidy of the gasoline dominance, up to modern day? The elimination of competition, dependance on large international corporations, the historical corruption, crony capitalism?

    Current day all agree the cigarette companies intentionally misled consumers and suffered class action lawsuit per their business model. Think of the hundreds of tons of lead sprinkled upon the planet per petrol desire to eliminate ethanol. The inventor of the leaded fuel additive died per lead poisoning and had symptoms for years. Do you think society paid a high cost per petrol decision making seeing how modern health evaluations claim no acceptable quantity of lead within blood stream is acceptable for good health. How about the Great Depression that emanated from farm loss and the potential difference of ethanol would have made upon injection to their revenue stream. Military strength/costs, international conflicts, despot control, terrorist wealth, economic jeopardy, human suffering all seem to be intertwined with precious natural resources than can concentrate and magnify wealth to bad actors. What is the tax payer subsidy of that cost?

    • By jjhman on September 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      “The inventor of the leaded fuel additive died per lead poisoning” That is so not true that is casts doubt on everything you say. Tetraethyl lead was created by Thomas Midgley who also invented Freon while working for General Motors.

      -In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted poliomyelitis,
      which left him severely disabled. This led him to devise an elaborate
      system of strings and pulleys to help others lift him from bed. This
      system was the eventual cause of his own death when he was entangled in
      the ropes of this device and died of strangulation at the age of 55.”,_Jr.

      • By Forrest on September 2, 2015 at 7:31 am

        Well, it’s more complicated than that. Midgley was severely poisoned by lead and had to take a leave of absence several times. Lead usually doesn’t immediately kill, but poisons brain especially. It has a direct effect on cognitive skills and mental health. It’s effects will progress. The info I’ve read and confirmed his life was cut short by lead poisoning. Interesting the rope entanglement death? The kicker was this guy was busy developing ethanol as a the fuel additive exhibited suburb octane boost looking for. Management and investors refused to purchase the additive from farmers. They wanted the entire sales revenue. Midgley was busy attempting to synthesize ethanol from petrol products, when a fate of history put the company in bind to come up with octane compound pronto. They pushed the lead solution even knowing the health harm effects and worked to hide the health problem. Read “The History of Lead” article for an amazing story. It has the makings of a real drama movie and upon history. Leaded fuel is rated one of the top man made environmental mistakes in history and continues to do so in some backward nations. The tale of leaded fuel is sad. Especially so when one factors in the misery suffered from agriculture during the Great Depression and the antics of oil industry. The far left claim the evil from capitalism. It’s not as their was no competition. It’s really a factor of gov’t and powerful corps within embrace of cronyism, just the opposite of open markets. When arguing of Midgley’s death think of a drunk killing himself on trip home. One can argue he didn’t die from alcohol, but of a car accident.

        • By jjhman on September 2, 2015 at 12:33 pm

          I don’t wish to defend Midgley. I’m fully aware of the consequences of his work. As far as mental impairment is concerned he developed Freon 12 as a refrigerant many years after his work on tetraethyl lead. It was brilliant work, especially for a mechanical engineer with no specialized training in chemistry. During the 2nd world war he was an executive of the National Defense Research Committee and led research on synthetic rubber. Drunk my eye. He was a brilliant and creative research engineer with an underdeveloped sense of social responsibility, pretty typical of the type even to this day. He was killed by polio and consequent clumsiness.

          • By Forrest on September 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

            Typical lead poison person not that lucky. Health studies all claim mental impairment. Actually, you’re the first to claim and offer info on his death other than lead or shortened by lead poisoning, that I’ve run across. I just did a search and most claim contrary to what you post of Wikipedia. It is a hard fact of his lead poisoning and extended leave of absences. That is proof to me of a serious health problem per what we know now and affects of lead. It’s not a condition that can be cured. Also, the production of the additive killed many workers. The company was in full denial and cover up, so they would be vested in misinformation. Is this just a discussion on what killed him first? Like cancer victim death attributed to old age?

            • By Forrest on September 4, 2015 at 12:28 pm

              American Heritage Invention and Technology had published a history of Midgley. This end of life comment may be the result of lead poisoning? “On the morning of November 2, 1944, his wife found him hanging from his contrivance, strangled to death. It seems to have been an accident, although some in his family speculated that he may have committed suicide. If so, he left no explanation.”

  5. By Forrest on May 27, 2015 at 8:54 am

    A big factor, yet to be fully assayed is EPA health claims per their regs most of which hinge on air quality. I.U. just did a published study to determine mortality rate of EPA claims. Not much there. The claims are wholly unsubstantiated per science, but meanwhile the populace is served a steady diet on how wonderful EPA is with their non-elected power. The truth appears to be the mortality death rate decrease lies between 0 to 80,000 per year. Come to find out the EPA relies on PM reduction to make claims of which science knows little about. The biggest potential culprit is micro particles that go mostly uncontrolled. Autism, Alzheimer, and the wide array of inflammation diseases studies are increasingly pointing to micro particle pollution that appears to naked eye as clean air, but float about indefinitely and not obstructed by normal biologic respiration. Particles can easily travel directly to blood and settle within brain. If science and testing proves some of this out it would be damaging to the diesel engine popularity.

  6. By Forrest on June 6, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    The best argument for clean energy is the growing body of evidence of IC engine particulate health hazards. First, per environmental concerns the dreaded NOX emissions is a factor of heat and nitrogen. Anywhere a process requires high heat and air, the nitrogen component of air will produce NOX that is so detrimental to health of urban zones. So, ICE very problematic as well as high temperature wood stoves.
    Did you know the highly efficient diesel engine produces about 100x more particulates as compared to spark ignition engines with lower compression? We know our lungs are under attack and target source of systemic oxidative stress inflammation. Microbial endoxtins, metals, and unhealthy chemicals hitch a ride on anything less than PM10 particle and have easy access to our blood and brain chemicals. A big threat is the recycled french fry oil to bio-diesel. The high heat of frying and unique chemistry of potatoes produce 4-HNE a chemical that are very nasty to inhale. We have a new spin off of science, environmental health, that is is more attuned to human health and not merely concerned with environment. Our current regulations, may just be making us sick. The Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer, inflammatory, ADHD, allergies, and asthma concerns are gaining concern of air quality and petrol fuel source. The health science and funding of cigarette smoking provided a natural pathway to understand problems of crude oil fuels, that contain hundreds of chemicals. Fortunately, ethanol can decrease particulate matter 50% and if ever an IC engine optimized per the simple chemistry of lower heat combustion the engine would be very low polluting, indeed. MPG efficiency may need to take a hit to improve air quality. Diesel engine just produces to much unhealthy emissions. The best ICE may be ethanol fueled, spark ignition, and boiler vapor direct injection. The micro ethanol boiler powered by high heat exhaust and electrical heat for startup. Mileage and power may take a hit as the high compression, turbo charging, and direct injection technology not friendly to air quality. Yes, the wind,solar, hydro, nuclear, geothermal would indeed be attractive per battery charged vehicle.

  7. By John Thompson on June 8, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Imagine how it could be leveraged with GET technology

  8. By Fredric Dennis Williams on September 10, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Rather than reporting on actual subsidies, it appears that this was a political document meant to polish up the image of (subsidized) energy that is thought to have no negative aspects (mistakenly). What might be useful is specifics about actual subsidies.

    As for climate change, those familiar with the science know that increasing carbon dioxide has a direct benefit to food production, so perhaps this should be treated as a reason to use fossil fuels, since green energy costs more and does less for plant health and our food supply.

    Unfortunately, these days, science is employed casually by lawyers who think of it as a tool for selling pre-selected policies — not as a tool for deciding which policies might be most beneficial based on a clear understanding of science and its relevant findings and limitations.

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      “increasing carbon dioxide has a direct benefit to food production,”

      [citation missing]

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      “since green energy costs more ”

      Green energy doesn’t “cost more” when fossil fuels externalities aren’t Socialized.

    • By FNLED on September 20, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      “Unfortunately, these days, science is employed casually by lawyers who think of it as a tool for selling pre-selected policies — not as a tool for deciding which policies might be most beneficial based on a clear understanding of science and its relevant findings and limitations.”

      You’re clearly in the science denier camp.
      Aren’t you?

  9. By Adam Grant on September 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    This is great news. As the world transitions to unsubsidized solar and wind (because these are becoming cheaper than subsidized fossil fuels) we’ll automatically stop paying these large fossil subsidies.
    It’s likely that as the transition picks up speed, the fossil extraction industry will progressively lose the political power required to maintain its current level of support. As price supports are dismantled, the game tilts further in favour of renewables and the transition will accelerate.

  10. By George Wyatt on November 12, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    The IMF claim is essentially fraudulent. Go read “The IMF says we spend $5.3 trillion a year on fossil fuel subsidies. How is that possible?” by Brad Plumer. After you read Plumber you will take everything Elias Hinckely says with an entire saltlick.


  11. By Mary Brown on January 19, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Soon as I see “public health effects” in an article along with global warming it tells me the entire thing is garbage! Wasn’t to long ago someone was caught inflating the health cost by a factor of 100 in an article!

  12. By Chris Hood on February 18, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    pretty sure we need gas rations back..

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