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Many governments subsidize the production and consumption of fossil fuels. Contrary to expectation, a study finds that removing these subsidies would only modestly reduce global carbon dioxide emissions.
The 2015 Paris climate agreement was signed by 195 countries, with most pledging to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming gases. Many countries have a long history of subsidizing fossil fuels, and it seems logical that removing these subsidies — as the G20 group of nations has agreed to do — would help them to achieve their Paris climate commitments. However, in a paper in Nature, Jewell et al.1 report a comprehensive and convincing analysis suggesting that reforming these subsidies would cause only a modest reduction in global CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, I think that there is an urgent need for broader reform of fossil-fuel prices to fully reflect the costs associated with global warming and other environmental considerations.