MEDIA RELEASE: Government Must Be More Forthcoming Concerning Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Government Must Be More Forthcoming Concerning Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Auditor General frustrated by insufficient data to audit Canada’s 2009 commitment to phase out “Inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies

FOR IMMEDIATE MEDIA RELEASE  May 16, 2017
Media Contact: Cathy Orlando, cathy@citizensclimatelobby.org , 705-929-4043

Sudbury, ON – In 2009, the Canadian government committed to phasing out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies at the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh. A report released today  by Canada’s Auditor General (AG) Michael Ferguson  highlighted how difficult it is to find information regarding Canada’s “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.

In the press interview, Ferguson was clear where the problems lie. The government has not defined what an “inefficient” subsidy is nor how many subsidies are “inefficient”. Overall, the Auditor General does not have enough information to audit our commitments under the 2009 Pittsburgh Declaration to phase out “inefficient” subsidies.

“We found that Finance Canada still had not defined what an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy was, nor could the department tell us how many inefficient fossil fuel subsidies there could be,” Ferguson said. “We asked Finance Canada to provide us with its analyses of the social, economic and environmental aspects of these subsidies. The department did not give us that information.”

The AG report clearly stated: “This audit is important because while fossil fuels play an important role in Canada’s economy, their consumption is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels also have a negative impact on the health of Canadians. Furthermore, inefficient subsidies to the fossil fuel sector encourage wasteful consumption, undermine efforts to address climate change, and discourage investment in clean energy sources.”

“Negative taxes such as fossil fuel subsidies are artificially incentivizing companies to sink money needlessly into infrastructure with dubious prospects. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill,” responded Cathy Orlando, National Director Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada. “In Election 2015, the Liberals promised to be a more transparent government. Canadians want climate action. Thus, it should be an easy “win” for this government to open the books and let the Auditor General, Canadians and civil society weigh the impacts of ongoing tax incentives to the fossil fuel industry against the real threat of climate change and stranded assets. ”

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization creating the political will for a livable planet. Since September 2010, volunteer members have been lobbying their MPs for a carbon fee and dividend proposal which includes the following clause:  “All existing subsidies of fossil fuels including tax credits shall be phased out over the five years following enactment [of a carbon price].”