The B Team calls for an end to nature-destroying subsidies

The B Team, EHS
The B Team
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
17 February 2022
New research commissioned by The B Team and supported by Business for Nature, shows that the world is spending at least $1.8 trillion every year on subsidies that are driving the destruction of ecosystems and species extinction.

Financing Our Survival, is the first study in over a decade to provide an estimate of the total value of environmentally harmful subsidies across key sectors – thought to be the equivalent to 2% of global GDP.

The fossil fuel, agriculture, and water industries receive more than 80% of all environmentally harmful subsidies per year. This contributes to the depletion of natural resources, degrading of global ecosystems, perpetuating unsustainable levels of production and consumption, and exacerbating global inequalities.

0:05 / 1:12 Reform $1.8 trillion yearly environmentally harmful subsidies

“Subsidies perpetuate a broken system and perverse incentives. It is absurd that we continue to subsidise the destruction of the planet, and in turn our own destruction. We have an opportunity to courageously join forces to shape a smart transition that will incentivise clean energy and the protection of nature,” said Jean Oelwang, CEO and Founder of Virgin Unite and B Team leader.

It is absurd that we continue to subsidise the destruction of the planet, and in turn our own destruction.

With the 15th COP on the UN Convention on Biological Diversity fast approaching, The B Team and Business for Nature are calling for current subsidy reform targets ($500 billion per year) to be strengthened – requesting that governments commit to redirecting, repurposing, or eliminating all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2030.

The B Team
The B Team

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) and member of The B Team, said: ”Nature is declining at an alarming rate, and we have never lived on a planet with so little biodiversity. At least $1.8 trillion is funding the destruction of nature and changing our climate, while creating huge risks for the very businesses who are receiving the subsidies. In the meantime, we still have not met the Paris Agreement climate finance target of $100 billion per year. Harmful subsidies must be redirected towards protecting the climate and nature, rather than financing our own extinction.”

The study provides a breakdown of the sectors that are responsible for the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also highlights how redirecting, repurposing, or eliminating subsidies could make an important contribution to unlocking the $711 billion required each year to halt and reverse the loss of nature by 2030, as well as the cost of reaching net zero emissions.

The report also emphasises how the destruction of nature threatens business interests, with over half of the world’s total GDP - $44 trillion – either moderately or highly dependent on nature.

The B Team
The B Team

“Environmentally harmful subsidies in business stand in the way of every effort to tackle climate change and protect our planet’s fragile ecosystems. We must develop a deeper understanding of their devastating impacts and redirect our resources to the policies that help create a more sustainable future for all,” said Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder and B Team leader.

It's time to build a nature positive economy. Read The B Team report to learn how bringing awareness, transparency, and disclosure to the subsidy debate is a vital first step in enabling a just, equitable, nature-positive world.