COP28

Stop adding fuel to the fire: End fossil subsidies

#Howmuchmore? Berlin, 30/11-05/12

Press Release
Follow the money: Scientist Rebellion carries sacks full of taxpayers’ money to fossil fuel company Wintershall

Berlin, 01.12.2023. Activists from Scientist Rebellion carried out a symbolic action in front of Wintershall Dea GmbH in Neustädtische Kirchstraße at around 9:30 this morning. From the Reichstag building, 9 people moved across the Reichstag embankment to the offices of the fossil fuel company. Some of them were disguised with masks as Olaf Scholz, Christian Lindner, Volker Wissing and Robert Habeck and carried sacks full of money. They were followed by Scientist Rebellion members in lab coats carrying a placard that read: “€65 billion per year – with this tax money we pay for environmental destruction and unchecked greenhouse gas emissions”. In the presence of the police, the scientists gave speeches and pointed out Wintershall’s financial ties with the Federal Republic of Germany.

Subsidies for fossil fuels are one of the most serious examples of repeatedly failed climate promises. Since 2009, German governments have repeatedly promised to reduce fossil or environmentally harmful subsidies. Despite this, around 65 billion euros of taxpayers’ money continues to be spent on this every year.

“Germany must now get serious about ending the fossil age – not just nod in international negotiations and then continue to subsidize the fossil industry at home. The time for empty declarations of intent has long since passed,” says Daniele Artico, physicist at Humboldt University Berlin.

“We are calling on the German government to formulate a concrete plan for phasing out climate-damaging subsidies by 2025, as it has promised to do. As scientists, we have a responsibility to criticize the existing power structures that are criminally obstructing the path to sustainability,” explains Dr. Nicolas Roy, mathematician and physicist.

Scientist Rebellion is holding several actions in Berlin between December 1 and 4 to mark the COP28 Climate Change Conference.

Photos and videos of the action for free use: here

Press release
How many more empty promises? – Scientist Rebellion pastes Ministry of Transport with political promises to cut fossil fuel subsidies

Berlin, 02.12.2023. At around 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, the “Scientists’ march against fossil subsidies” organized by Scientist Rebellion started in Luisenstraße, with around 100 academics taking part. They protested against the numerous fossil fuel subsidies that are further fueling the climate crisis in Germany. The demonstration proceeded along Reinhardt-, Friedrich- and Hannoversche Straße in the direction of Invalidenpark. At around 15:45, as the demonstration approached the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Affairs, an independent group of 6 Scientist Rebellion members pasted large-format printouts of the political declarations made so far on the abolition of fossil subsidies to the outside walls of the building on Invalidenstraße.

“Although this is already the 28th COP, global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. And so the dangerous weather extremes are increasing, as are the number of ignored scientific warnings and empty promises by the German government. Since 2009, Germany has repeatedly declared, including at the world climate conferences, that we will reduce environmentally harmful subsidies. What has happened? Nothing!” adds Dr. Nicolas Roy, mathematician.

In Germany, the transportation sector receives the largest amount of fossil fuel subsidies. These include the diesel and company car privilege as well as the commuter allowance and the massive tax breaks for air traffic. While scientists have been warning of the dramatic consequences of the climate crisis for humanity and the biosphere for decades, neither the previous German governments nor the current traffic light government have managed to reduce the numerous fossil fuel subsidies. Just as the scientific warnings have been repeated in an endless loop for decades, excerpts from speeches in which scientists warn of the consequences of the climate crisis were played continuously at the demonstration.

“While politicians and oil bosses are formulating empty promises at COP28, we want to give the voice of science more weight with the scientists’ demo against fossil subsidies. Science is fatally often ignored,” emphasizes Dr. Lorenzo Perrone, astrophysicist.

Scientist Rebellion is organizing actions in Berlin on the occasion of COP28 between December 1 and 4, 2023.


Photos and videos of the action for free use.

 

We invite you to action trainings and a relaxing time together.

Press release
The judiciary must live up to its responsibility in the climate crisis

Berlin, 04.12.2023. At around 1 p.m. today, six members of Scientist Rebellion pasted papers to the walls of the district court on Turmstraße in Berlin. Dressed in lab coats, the scientists pasted large-format articles about the consequences of the climate and biodiversity crisis and the role of civil disobedience in the climate emergency on the outside walls of the building. They also spilled fake blood in front of the entrance and held statements by judges from climate activist court cases in their hands. With this action, they are pointing out that the German judiciary’s failure to take responsibility in the climate crisis has real consequences for the well-being of humanity.

“This is now the 28th World Climate Conference and greenhouse gas emissions are still rising. Politicians are not living up to their responsibility to protect our livelihoods. This places even more responsibility on the judiciary. It should enforce the right to life and integrity enshrined in our constitution, also in the future,” explains Dr. Nicolas Roy, mathematician, with reference to Article 20a.

Time and again, climate activists’ expert witnesses who could contribute their expertise on the dangers of the climate and biodiversity crisis are rejected by judges during court hearings. The statements that the judges subsequently make when passing judgment often indicate that the urgency and danger of the crises has not been understood or that the judiciary is biased towards civil disobedience actions. However, as has been published in a legal journal, the climate emergency can justify these actions due to the emergency clause of the German Criminal Code (§34 StGB). The courts have not yet seriously considered this argument, as it would be too time-consuming and would suggest far-reaching decisions.

“We need legal diligence when making judgments on climate action. All disciplines dealing with the scientific, health and psychological consequences of the climate and biodiversity crisis are talking about an emergency. Only the judiciary does not recognize this. So how can it help to protect us? Judges should judge independently – regardless of popular opinions and always with a view to the reality of measurable facts,” emphasizes Dr. Lorenzo Perrone, astrophysicist.

Scientist Rebellion will be holding actions in Berlin between December 1 and 4, 2023 on the occasion of COP28 to draw attention to the danger posed by the escalating climate and biodiversity crisis. They are accepting the legal consequences of their action to show that the threat is real.

Photos and videos free to use.

Were these our last actions during COP28??? 

How much more climate failure can we afford?

COP28 is around the corner. After an inconclusive edition last year, world leaders will gather from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai to discuss climate action. Fossil fuel interests will be more present than ever in these negotiations, causing widespread distrust and indignation. As the deadly consequences of the climate crisis become more visible than ever, as temperature records after temperature records are smashed, as limiting global warming to a safer limit of 1.5 degrees is turning into political fiction, we cannot afford this COP to be again a parade of empty promises.

How much more unfulfilled promises can the climate crisis take? 

Fossil subsidies are one of the worst examples of repetitively failed climate promises. Since 2009, German governments have repetitively pledged to phase out fossil or environmentally damaging subsidies: at G7 meetings, in the final declarations of the last two COPs, and in the latest coalition agreement. Despite this, Germany still spends 65 billions of euros of tax money in environmentally harmful subsidies each year, and the current government has little concrete plans for a phase out.

How much more time can we waste?

After almost 15 years of empty words, environmentally damaging subsidies are still in place, lowering our already narrow chances to keep global warming below a safer limit of 1.5C. The failure to act on this repeated, science-backed promise, is no less than climate sabotage.   Fossil subsidies artificially cheapen climate-damaging modes of transportation and production, leading to further escalation of the climate crisis, and withhold the funds that could enable a faster and fairer transition. The time is too late for vague declarations of intention. We need deeds, not words. 

We demand that the German government drafts a concrete plan for a rapid phasing out of fossil subsidies, ultimately ending all types of environmentally damaging subsidies by 2025, as they promised at the G7 in 2016, and that they immediately work on stopping the most damaging and unequal subsidies, redirecting the money towards a fair energy transition and social justice programs.

Join us in Berlin from 30/11 to 05/12 to demand an end to fossil subsidies and climate sabotage. 

#Howmuchmore climate failure can we afford?
#Howmuchmore unfulfilled promises can the climate crisis take?
#Howmuchmore time can we waste?

According to the most recent available estimates, Germany spends about 65 billion euros per year on environmentally damaging subsidies.. These include some non-fossil, environmentally damaging subsidies, such as lower taxes for animal products, but the largest contribution to environmentally damaging subsidies are fossil fuel subsidies. These are for instance full VAT and kerosene tax exemptions in international aviation (12.4 billion euros / year), or lower taxation for diesel fuel compared to gasoline (8.2 billion euros / year). Though this number was computed in 2018, failure to address the necessary phase-out of these subsidies, as well as the implementation of new subsidies since 2022 mean that the current amount is likely not smaller.

There is a clear agreement from the scientific community that a phase out of fossil subsidies would contribute to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and can be a vital tool for a fair transition. Fossil fuel subsidies have a double negative effect: (1) they lead to further carbon emissions by artificially lowering the cost of climate-damaging modes of transportation and production, and (2) they withhold funds that could be otherwise used on a faster and fairer transition. The latest IPCC report stated: “Removing fossil fuel subsidies would reduce emissions, improve public revenue and macroeconomic performance, and yield other environmental and sustainable development benefits”. This call is echoed by several expert bodies, such as the IMF or IEA.

As part of G7, the German government has repetitively agreed to phase out fossil subsidies since 2009. In 2016, G7 countries agreed on a 2025 deadline. In the current coalition agreement, the parties now in government agreed to phase out climate and environment damaging subsidies. However, as  the Expertenrat Klima critically noted, there is still a lack of a clear route for their phase-out.

Fossil subsidies are one of the clearest examples of unfulfilled climate promises by countries on the international stage. Despite agreements at the last two COPs on a phase out of inefficient fossil subsidies, they are not yet decreasing on a global level. During COP28, the EU is planning again to call for a phase-out of fossil subsidies, but without a concrete deadline. Countries like Germany present themselves as climate leaders but are not credible as they fail to implement at home the policies they defend on the world stage. One of the major obstacles to effective climate action, such as putting an end to fossil fuel subsidies, is the intense lobbying of the fossil industry. After last year’s COP in Egypt, where fossil fuel lobbyists made up the second most numerous delegation, this year’s COP will take place in Dubai, under the direction of the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Letting fossil fuel companies present themselves as part of the solution, after decades of spreading misinformation and lobbying against climate action, is unacceptable and dangerous.

Currently, the richest segment of the population profits most from fossil subsidies. The phase out of fossil subsidies would free money that can be used to ensure a fair energy transition, compensating poorer households for high energy prices or funding schemes for energy saving initiatives such as housing insulation, but also finance underfunded essential public services such as health care and education. Our tax money can be used in improving our public transport system and making it available for everyone instead of cheapening the flights of a rich minority of frequent flyers.

Environmentally-damaging subsidies in Germany cheatsheet

According to the most recent available estimates, Germany spends about 65 billion euros per year on environmentally damaging subsidies

[1] https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/publikationen/umweltschaedliche-subventionen-in-deutschland-0

The largest share of environmentally-damaging subsidies goes to the energy and to the transport sector (25 and 31 billion EUR respectively). They include subsidies like full VAT and kerosene tax exemptions in international aviation (12.4 billion euros / year), or lower taxation for diesel fuel compared to gasoline (8.2 billion euros / year).

Currently, the richest segment of the population profits most from fossil subsidies

[17] https://www.greenpeace.de/klimaschutz/mobilitaet/reiche-profitieren

The phase out of fossil subsidies would free money that can be used to ensure a fair energy transition, compensating poorer households for high energy prices or funding schemes for energy saving initiatives such as housing insulation

[18]https://foes.de/publikationen/2023/2023_5_FOES_Amos_Sozial_gerechter_Abbau_umweltschaedlicher_Subventionen.pdf

Though this number was computed in 2018, failure to address the necessary phase-out of these subsidies, as well as the implementation of new subsidies since 2022 mean that the current amount is likely going to be higher.

[2] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2023/08/22/IMF-Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies-Data-2023-Update-537281

[3] https://www.sciencemediacenter.de/alle-angebote/rapid-reaction/details/news/cop15-umweltschaedliche-subventionen-in-naturschutz-umlenken/
“Für einige umweltschädliche Subventionen liegen aktuellere Daten oder Schätzungen vor. Sie deuten darauf hin, dass das Volumen der umweltschädlichen Subventionen in den letzten Jahren nicht zurückgegangen ist. Im Zuge der aktuellen Energiekrise kam es sogar zu einem temporären Anstieg umweltschädlicher Subventionen, zum Beispiel durch den so genannten Tankrabatt, also eine befristete Ermäßigung der Energiesteuer auf Kraftstoffe.“

The latest IPCC report stated: “Removing fossil fuel subsidies would reduce emissions, improve public revenue and macroeconomic performance, and yield other environmental and sustainable development benefits”

[4] IPCC AR6 synthesis report

The call to phase-out fossil subsidies is echoed by several expert bodies, such as the IMF or IEA

[5] https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/climate-change/energy-subsidies

[6] https://www.iea.org/topics/energy-subsidies

As part of G20, the German government has repetitively agreed to phase out fossil subsidies since 2009

[7] To phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change.https://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2009/2009communique0925.html (see preamble, point 24)

In 2016, G7 countries agreed on a 2025 deadline for the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/27/g7-nations-pledge-to-end-fossil-fuel-subsidies-by-2025

In the current coalition agreement, the parties now in government agreed to phase out climate and environment damaging subsidies

[9] https://www.spd.de/fileadmin/Dokumente/Koalitionsvertrag/Koalitionsvertrag_2021-2025.pdf

However, as the Expertenrat Klima pointed out critically in its report, there is a lack of a clear route for phase-out:

[10] “Die Maßnahmen des Klimaschutzprogramms 2023 zielen vorrangig auf die Handlungsfelder zur THG-Minderung ab, die bereits in der Vergangenheit adressiert wurden [] Dazu gehört auch die Rücknahme oder Umgestaltung von Maßnahmen, die dem Klimaschutz entgegenwirken, insbesondere der Abbau klimaschädlicher Subventionen, der nur wenig konkretisiert wird.” See zusammenfassung and section 3.2 https://expertenrat-klima.de/content/uploads/2023/09/ERK2023_Stellungnahme-zum-Entwurf-des-Klimaschutzprogramms-2023.pdf

Agreements at the last two COPs also called for a phase out of inefficient fossil subsidies

[11] “36. Calls upon parties to [] phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards a just transition”; https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2021_10_add1_adv.pdf

[12] “13. Calls upon parties to [] phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards a just transition” https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cop27_auv_2_cover%20decision.pdf?download

Despite numerous international agreements fossil fuel subsidies are not yet decreasing on a global level

[13] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2023/08/22/IMF-Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies-Data-2023-Update-537281

This year, the EU is planning again to call for a phase-out of fossil subsidies, but without a concrete deadline

[14] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/10/16/cop28-council-sets-out-eu-position-for-un-climate-summit-in-dubai/ 

At last year’s COP in Egypt fossil fuel lobbyists made up the second most numerous delegation

[15] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/10/big-rise-in-number-of-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-at-cop27-climate-summit

This year’s COP will take place in Dubai, under the direction of the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company

[16] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/oct/07/meet-the-oil-man-tasked-with-saving-the-planet-cop28

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