Fossil Fuel Welfare Versus the Climate

  • Alex Lenferna


A predominant framing within much climate literature is that the cause of climate change is free market capitalism, a perspective perhaps most prominently found in Naomi Klein’s capitalism versus the climate framing. In this chapter, using a range of international case studies, I demonstrate how rather than the working of the ‘free’ market underpinning the climate crisis, instead fossil fuel subsidies, government protection and favourable policies prop up the fossil fuel industry against competition and drive much of the climate crisis. Instead of free market capitalism versus the climate, we have an extensive regime of fossil fuel welfare versus the climate. As such, I argue that even proponents of free market capitalism should be opposed to the current fossil fuel welfare regime. The chapter then discusses how we could create a more prosperous low carbon future at a lower cost than how much we currently subsidise fossil fuels. Studies show that by redirecting the welfare we give to the fossil fuel industry to a more socially and ecologically just future, we could greatly improve human and ecological welfare and meet the Paris Climate Agreement target of keeping warming to 1.5°C.


Climate justice Subsidies Fossil fuels Renewable energy Capitalism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Lenferna
    • 1
  1. 1.JohannesburgSouth Africa

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