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French Foreign Minister launches attack against fossil fuels

Former prime minister and possible UN climate talks president Laurent Fabius says oil and gas subsides must be cut

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By Ed King

Fossil fuel subsidies must be scrapped to avert dangerous levels of global warming, according to the French official tasked with leading UN negotiations next year in Paris.

Speaking on Saturday at an economic meeting in Aix-en-Provence, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said local and national governments needed to “stop fossil fuel subsidies”.

“Beyond these 2 degrees, we will undergo climate chaos and no one, no individual, no company, no nation, no town will be spared,” he said.

According to the International Energy Agency, fossil fuel subsidies totalled US$544 billion while investment in renewables was $101bn.

France will host the 21st UN climate conference in 2015, where countries are scheduled to sign off a global climate deal aimed at limiting warming to below 2C, a level deemed dangerous by scientists.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a US NGO, says the elimination of subsidies could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions 6% by 2020.

Support for oil, gas and coal is widespread in developed and developing countries, and is blamed for creating inefficient economies where the true costs of energy are not valued.

Fabius said his own government had to confront subsidies, and called for a “clear and stable framework over time” to start their removal.

Banking role

Fabius, recently returned from India where he discussed a UN climate deal with new prime minister Narendra Modi, added that sovereign wealth funds and pension funds should consider ditching their fossil fuel investments.

Quoted by news agency RTL, he called for 10% of traditional portfolios to be dedicated to the green economy by 2020, arguing business as usual plans would “destroy more wealth than it creates.”

He added “no individual, no company, no nation, no town will be spared” if the global temperatures increase more than 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The minister also called for a massive transition in investment to support clean energy.

The coming decades needed to see the “€1,000 billion currently invested in energy, up to 80% for fossil fuels and 20% for renewables, to switch gradually” to greener forms of power, he said.

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