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OPEC declares renewable energy subsidies "unfair" while fossil fuels subsidies total $500 billion more
by Bryce Wolfe on September 18, 2010
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) celebrated its 50th Anniversary earlier this month, and identified alternative energy as one of the main challenges it faces today. Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri spoke in reference to government policies that favor alternative sources of energy while taxing fossil fuels.
Worldwide last year, governments gave about $45 billion in support of renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar power and biofuels, according to London-based research group Bloomberg New England Finance. In contrast, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that governments gave more than $550 billion to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008. That's more than 12 times the amount given to renewable energy.
Leading members of OPEC promote green energy initiatives within their own borders. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to build solar-powered desalination plants, and El-Badria stated that oil's finite nature means that OPEC members will need to seek out alternative sources of power for the future. Besides power, OPEC should also examine the global health and environmental costs of oil. In June, Saudi Arabia blocked a request from island nations seeking information on global warming. Barbados had asked the United Nations to produce a study exploring what effects a 2.7 degree F increase would have on the island nations, stating fears that rising sea levels may drown their lands. Saudi Arabia objected on the grounds that the UN doesn’t have the ability to carry out such an extensive study.
OPEC is comprised of 12 nations, including founding members Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabic and Venezuela. Last month it produced more than one third of global oil supplies and its members control 80 percent of the world's known oil reserves.