News Release

As Global Warming Threshold Passes, Fossil Subsidies Continue


Bloomberg reports today: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Stockholm for meetings with Swedish leaders before traveling to the northern reaches of the country for a meeting on the sweeping climate changes affecting the Arctic.”

Reuters reported over the weekend: “The amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million at a key observing station in Hawaii for the first time since measurement began in 1958, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Friday. To many scientists, crossing the 400 ppm threshold, which means that there are 400 molecules of carbon dioxide for every million molecules in the air, is a bit like the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising above 15,000 points.”

MICHAEL DORSEY, mkdorsey at, @GreenHejira
Dorsey is visiting scholar and professor of environmental policy in Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment. He said today: “The 400 ppm milestone is worrisome, but there is still time for government action, domestically and internationally.

“The Arctic Council is genuinely trying to tackle the problem of unfolding climate catastrophe, but the White House’s ongoing commitment to oil exploration and exploitation may nullify the Council’s work.

“We passed the 400 ppm milestone as a result of the strong growth of global CO2 emissions from the human-driven burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. The President and the White House are in part to blame. The President has spectacularly failed to forge bold policies to avert climate catastrophe. It’s not surprising that there is no senior climate policy team inside the White House that is working on any aggressive plan to end investments and financing in the fossil fuels sector.

“Last year alone, the administration and congress facilitated giving America’s largest five oil companies more than $350 million per day — more than $14.5 million dollars an hour — in subsidies. The average worker got about $23 an hour.

“Eliminating just the fossil fuel subsidies related to consumption by 2020 would reduce annual global primary energy demand by nearly 5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 5.8 percent, or 2.6 gigatons — equivalent to almost half of U.S carbon dioxide emissions.

“The U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimates that the cost of the health effects in the United States alone attributed to fossil fuel use approaches $120 billion annually.

“Now more than ever the President and the White House must lead the nation and the planet on a more aggressive pathway to stop new fossil fuel projects — like Keystone XL and continued offshore oil and gas development.”