The IMF calculated that the world's governments spent a total of £3.73 trillion in 2015 on fossil fuel subsidies and their impacts. This is an astoundingly large figure, over £7.53 million every minute. To put this into some much needed context, that's over £492 a year for every single one of the 7.4 billion humans on this planet, a lot of whom don't even have access to power. That's more than the same governments spend on healthcare. And as a comparison, renewable energy only gets a paltry £10 per person per year.
That's not all. In the latest UK budget the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced another £billion of subsidies for oil and gas. All based off the false premise that renewable energy means higher energy costs for consumers.
The source for all this, the IMF, is one of the world's most respected financial institutions, so they haven't produced this figure without due diligence. In fact some economists like Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, think that this has been significantly underestimated.
There has to be a better way. Even after these subsidies, dinosaurs aren't a cheap way to power our countries. Onshore wind costs roughly the same per megawatt hour as coal and gas, and the price per MWh for solar has been plummeting every year. Nuclear isn't any better, with the new Hinkley Point C price being guaranteed at £92.50, compared to onshore wind which can be as low as £80.
If you do the math, or let the IMF do it for you, it becomes pretty obvious that if we redirected fossil fuel subsidies into renewables, we'd be much better off in the world. Seriously.