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Cutting fossil fuel subsidies is crucial to boosting ‘sustainability revolution’, ex-US VP Al Gore tells WEF

DAVOS: Scaling down anti-climate finance is a vital part of the world’s sustainability revolution, former US Vice President Al Gore insisted as he hit out at the ongoing subsidies for fossil fuels.

Gore, now chairman and co-founder of Generation Investment Management LLP, made the comments during the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting on Tuesday, as he talked up the speed with which countries are pursuing green energy solutions.

The recent announcement from the world meteorological organization that the first crisis of the global atmosphere is now receding is evidence for progress in the battle against climate change, he added.

“We need to scale up climate finance, but we need desperately to scale down anti-climate finance, and we are still subsidizing fossil fuels globally at a rate 42 times larger than the subsidies for the shift towards renewables and EVs,” said Gore.  

He further identified the need for effective financing, and for the public sector’s role in providing policies that enable the private sector to invest more freely, specifically in developing and emerging markets.  

Gore added: “My partners and I believe very strongly that the world is going through a sustainability revolution that has the scale of the industrial revolution coupled with the pace of the digital revolution.”

He hit out at the funding options available to growing economies, arguing that while some 88 percent of the projected increases in emissions come from the developing countries, “they do not have practical access to private capital today.”  

In the previous year, 90 percent of all the new electricity generation installed globally was renewable, primarily wind and solar, and 86 percent of that financing came through private capital.  

“But if you’re in Nigeria, you have to pay interest rates seven times larger than a European or North American country. It’s absolutely insane.” 

“If we have a global allocation system for capital that deprives the vast majority of people who live in developing countries from any meaningful access then we’re kidding ourselves and we have no credibility,” he added.

Gore concluded that in order to overcome this challenge there had to be reform of multilateral development banks, and he added: “We need new leadership at the world bank, we need them to scale up the leverage and vastly increase the amounts that are committed, and we need to reign in the anti-climate activities of the fossil industries.”  

The former vice president went on to say that the so-called revolution was boosted with the recent technological advances – new levels of hyper efficiency, blockchain, and new information tools like artificial intelligent and machine learning among others.  

“Executive teams are finding a new ability to manage protons, electrons, atoms, molecules, genes, and proteins with the same proficiency that the IT companies have demonstrated in managing bits,” said Gore.

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