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Sierra Daily

Jun 18, 2012

Oil Subsidies Dwarf Renewable Energy Efforts

Today is the Twitterstorm aimed at getting the nations gathering in Brazil for the Rio Earth Summit to take a huge step toward stopping climate change by ending their subsidies for fossil fuels. This graphic from the new issue of Sierra sketches the extent of the problem--and these are only U.S. figures. The giant red planet represents taxpayer subsidies to the oil companies, while industry investments in renewable energy are almost too small to picture. [click on image to expand]


"It's time oil companies get behind the development of renewable energy," claims the ad from Chevron, the second biggest U.S. oil company. Chevron's competitors also tout their investments in renewables. But according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, for every dollar the industry spends on renewables, it spends $522 on finding and producing oil. In the solar system of oil industry economics, renewables are a tiny moon. Figures are for the years 2006 through 2010.

Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.


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