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How can we make our subsidies sustainable? #rethinkingthesystem

During ReGeneration Week 2021, hundreds of young people from around the Nordic and Baltic Sea region got together to make our voices heard on the climate crisis. We collectively wrote a Declaration listing what must be done to achieve sustainability in the short time frame necessary. In this series, ReGeneration 2030 volunteer Ugnė explores each of the seven articles of the Declaration.

Environmentally motivated subsidies have been increasing over the past few years, which is great; these subsidies are vital to encouraging the sustainable transition. But we also need to address the elephant in the room: fossil fuels subsidies.

The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the rapid rise of the Earth’s temperature. Despite this, governments in our region continue to subsidise the fossil fuel industry. Every year, EU government institutions invest over 137 billion euros in the planet-destroying industry. Worse, those investments are growing every year. Without a change to the system, they will grow even faster in the future.

Our economic system already fails to account for the most major cost of fossil fuels; the collapse of our ecosystems. Subsidies intensify the problem, allowing private companies to make a higher profit on an already untenable product.

So if these subsidies are endangering life on earth, why are they still happening?

Reasons may include:

  • Highly successful lobbying: for example, the fossil fuel industry had more delegates than any country or industry at COP26

  • Privatised energy and transport systems: these allow companies to pass rising prices on to ordinary people, forcing governments to step in to protect their citizens with subsidies in times of high prices

  • Corruption: highly powerful energy companies pay off politicians to allow them to continue profiting from climate collapse

That makes this problem even bigger because aside from being extremely harmful to our planet, it also provokes the growth of inequality in our society.

Only political action can solve this issue and for that, we need strong and motivated policymakers, who could take the responsibility to lead this necessary change.

We need to rethink our subsidies before we ruin our planet completely.

ReGeneration 2030 is currently formulating position papers on issues like these to help the youth sustainability movement push for change in our region. If you’re under 30 and want to be a part, email or sign up through our volunteer form.


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