Saving the Planet and Saving Our Economy
Abandoned towns. Uprooted families. Destroyed economies. Broken lives. Communities that have based their livelihoods around fossil fuels are facing a bleak future. The falling cost of solar and wind energy, stricter emission controls, and competition from inexpensive natural gas are driving the trend to cleaner energy — all ensuring coal’s death. Unless there is a successful transition to discover new means to sustain these communities, whole regions will face disaster.
Environmental policy needs to strike a balance between reducing the negative impacts of emissions and ensuring economic stability. By gradually removing fossil fuel subsidies, countries can be guided towards progressively eliminating their carbon footprints while facilitating economic growth. The United States should gradually remove the $20 billion spent on fossil-fuel subsidies every year less than $5 billion by 2030 to eliminate the waste of government funds, decrease harm to the environment, and target assistance to the affected communities.
Around the world, current policy to address climate change is ineffective. Countries neither properly enforce the carbon tax nor acknowledge the dire economic effects of a sudden, strict environmental policy. Existing taxes on CO2 emissions are too low to make an impact, as nations aren’t discouraged from emitting. The top four CO2 emitters— the U.S., China, India, and Russia–are responsible for half of all total CO2 emissions and do not have a carbon tax at all. In addition, these governments are spending taxpayers’ money on economic subsidies, resulting in more fossil fuel use.
Gradually reducing fossil fuel subsidies will allow for the more productive use of government funds, allowing nations to be much more successful in reaching climate goals. Funds should be allocated to reach areas of society that are desperate for resources, to help them to prepare for eventual fossil fuel elimination. Reduced CO2 emissions will follow. Newfound financing can go towards targeted safety nets, healthcare, and education. Countries like Indonesia need these developments to pursue expensive energy alternatives and provide assistance for sustainable energy systems.
The sustainable development goals outlined by the UN General Assembly in 2015 are intended both to build a sustainable future and encourage sustained economic growth. Strategically removing fossil fuel subsidies is an important way to accomplish these goals, even if they are out of reach for the set 2030 deadline. Removing subsidies would encourage nations to adopt a low-carbon infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions by 6 to 13% by 2050. It is a necessary step to keep inside the 2° Celsius target.
Gradually cutting fossil fuel subsidies would lead to the creation of better, fairer welfare systems for the disadvantaged. For example, China spent an astonishing $30.5 billion on subsidizing its citizens’ consumption of fossil fuels in 2019. These funds could have been redirected to help those affected by climate change. They could reduce poverty and help create food security and sustainable agriculture. Cutting subsidies would also address inequality, as these subsidies disproportionately benefit wealthier households, especially in developing nations.
Some climate activists and organizations argue that a global carbon tax would be simpler in reducing emissions than a removal of fossil fuel subsidies. The ambiguity in finding the appropriate balance is seen as too dangerous. However, a carbon tax would encourage firms and countries to engage in corrupt transactions to meet their quotas. Grandfather clauses for existing factories and special exemptions for industrial sectors would be needed, with carve-outs for developing countries. With these bottom-up forces, it’s unlikely that a developing country would impose carbon tax requirements on fossil fuel industries, such as coal-fired power plants. This permits greedy countries to use taxpayer cash to further their economic interests to the detriment of the environment. By gradually lowering fossil fuel use, we can avoid wasting the potential to improve the environment while still maintaining the economy.
To reduce CO2 emissions, it is critical to address the future of our economy as well. The United States and all governments should take a proactive approach to gradually reduce fossil fuel subsidies. It is through the enactment of this initiative that the world will promote, achieve, and maintain peace, prosperity, and happiness for all. Governments should redirect funds toward more critical problems, to achieve sustainable development goals, serve the underprivileged, and reduce harm to the environment. This policy will not only save the economy but save our planet.