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An alarming new report by the World Bank shines a light on the devastating effects of subsidies for industries like fossil fuels, farming, and fishing. These “toxic” subsidies are causing what the Bank refers to as “environmental havoc,” with harmful impacts felt by both people and the planet.

Source: Vox/Youtube

The report reveals that these subsidies total at least $7.25tn a year. To put it in perspective, that’s over $2m every minute. They’re not just taking a toll on the environment – many countries are spending more on these subsidies than on health, education, or poverty reduction.

Surprisingly, the majority of these subsidies benefit the rich more than the poor. A portion of this funding could be repurposed to aid those most in need and to tackle the pressing climate and natural crises we face today.

One such subsidy is those provided to the fossil fuel industry. At a staggering $577bn, these explicit subsidies for coal, oil, and gas in 2021 were twice as large as those for renewable energy. This practice, ironically, occurs simultaneously with global efforts to combat Climate change.

Agricultural and fishing subsidies also contribute significantly to this issue. These funds, which promote inefficiencies and environmental damage, were responsible for the destruction of millions of hectares of forest each year.

The World Bank’s report, titled “Detox Development,” calls for urgent reforms in subsidies. It presents a roadmap for this transformation, highlighting the importance of effective communication and compensation.

Reforming these harmful subsidies is not just necessary for our planet’s health but could also serve as a crucial source of funding for environmental initiatives. As the report rightly points out, the costs of inaction will be much higher. Now more than ever, it’s time to ensure our funds are used wisely and sustainably.

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