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As World Burns, Richest Nations Can’t Decide When to End Fossil Fuel Handouts

Despite ambitious pledges, global energy ministers could not agree on a target date to phase out billions in subsidies to dirty energy

The world’s richest nations have failed to agree on a deadline to phase out fossil fuels subsidies—a commitment energy ministers made in 2009—stirring new fears over the impact of the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that go toward keeping dirty energy afloat every year.

Energy ministers from the Group of 20 (G20) met in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss bringing those subsidies to a close after the Group of 7 (G7), the world’s seven wealthiest economies, last month committed to eliminate “inefficient” fossil fuel handouts by 2025. A report published in 2015 by the climate group Oil Change International found that the combined G20 subsidies for oil, gas, and coal production amounts to roughly $444 billion a year.

But despite ambitious pledges during the COP21 summit in Paris last year and long-term campaigning from climate groups, who urged an even earlier phase-out deadline of 2020, officials could not agree on a target date.

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