Qatar - the host of U.N. climate talks that entered their final week Monday - is among dozens of countries that keep gas prices artificially low through subsidies that exceeded $500 billion globally last year. Renewable energy worldwide received six times less support - an imbalance that is just starting to earn attention in the divisive negotiations on curbing the carbon emissions blamed for heating the planet.
"We need to stop funding the problem, and start funding the solution," said Steve Kretzmann, of Oil Change International, an advocacy group for clean energy.
His group presented research Monday showing that in addition to the fuel subsidies in developing countries, rich nations in 2011 gave more than $58 billion in tax breaks and other production subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The U.S. figure was $13 billion.
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has calculated that removing fossil fuel subsidies could reduce carbon emissions by more than 10 percent by 2050.