Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, really keeps ringing that alarm bell. After his recent warnings that the oil price surge may tip the world back into a recession the Guardian now has an article where he points out that the oil import bill of developing countries is nullifying the development assistance they receive. Sub-Saharan Africa received about $15.6bn in overseas development aid last year, but paid $18bn for importing oil. So it would probably be helpful if donors shifted their financial support from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The problem is not limited to developing countries, though. The EU last year paid more than $500bn for oil imports – “That is the equivalent of a Greek crisis – every year”.
Birol also repeated the assessment from last year’s World Energy Outlook that putting off clean energy investments because of the financial crisis and recession was “a false economy”. According to the IEA, for every $1 that countries do not spend on cleaner fuel now, they will have to spend $4.3 within the next two decades to make up for it.
Which is a message most EU governments do not seem to be getting. Bloomberg has a good summary of the current state of play in the excruciating discussion about maybe addressing the growing surplus in the EU’s emission trading system.