Resolved: The United States ought to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuel (Argument list, bib, files)





Advantages –


Climate change — all impacts, including ethical obligations to reduce climate change


General environmental harms to coal production
General environmental harms to oil production


Coal mining destroys the environment


Environmental racism/environmental justice


Natural resource conflicts


High deficits bad


Renewables good, including economic benefits


Nuclear power good


Objectivism/libertarianism — government subsidies bad


Free trade — fossil fuel subsidies undermine free trade



Plans are not allowed in L-D on some circuits, but plans are common on other circuits. If your circuit allows plans, you may want to consider these –

(a) Generally eliminate subsidies
— This could include a prohibition on state subsidies

(b) Eliminate subsidies for coal carbon sequestration

(c) Eliminate subsidies for coal or oil (pick one)

(d) Eliminate subsidies for developing fossil fuels on federal lands

(e) Eliminate exploration and development subsidies

(f) Eliminate or reduce liability protections from FF companies






Ice Age DA
CO2 Agriculture DA
So2 Screw


Reverse spending Big budget savings will be diverted to the military, high military spending bad.


Competitiveness – Eliminating subsidies puts US producers at a disadvantage vis-à-vis foreign producers


Energy price spikes – Eliminating subsidies causes energy price spikes


Renewables Bad – More renewables means greater demand for rare earth minerals. Impacts are environmental destruction and dependence on China.


Nuclear power bad – More nuclear power is bad (accidents, radiation, proliferation, etc)


Politics – Political Capital & Elections


Oil dependence — Reduced subsidies means more international imports of coal and oil, dependence on these is bad


Oil prices — Large global transition away from fossil fuels eliminates income sources for major energy producing countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Energy prices — Reducing subsidies causes energy price hikes, general economy and manufacturing impacts


Biofuels – Eliminating ff subsidies makes biofuels cost competitive, biofuels destroy the environment and trigger starvation because food is used as fuel




Subsidize alternative energy at higher rates than FF subsidies. Net-Benefits: Reverse spending. Politics links to cutting FF subsidies.


Negotiate globally negotiated reductions, using the plan as leverage. Net-Benefits; Global solvency.


Tax carbon. Net-Benefits: Politics


Any alternative way to solve climate change


Phase out subsidies


Other measures to solve climate change

— Adaptation

— CO2 removal

Other countries act to phase out fossil fuel subsidies

Take fossil fuel industry profits and create a universal basic income (Alaska has done this)




Deep ecology/anthropocentrism




Environmental Security






Fossil Fuel Subsidies Overview (2019). This article provides a general overview of what fossil fuel subsidies and argues they should be reduced. The article also highlights the the global nature of the subsidies and the need for international agreements.


How much does the world subsidize oil, coal, and gas (2019).This article explains that calculating energy subsidies at high values (hundreds of billions) assumes the indirect costs (health costs, for example) and not the direct costs.  It also points out that direct subsidies are declining now.


Subsidy list — this article has a list of all subsidies on pages 23-7.


The Hidden Subside of Fossil Fuels (2019).   A new report says that the world subsidized fossil fuels by $5.2 trillion in just one year. But that calculation is less tidy than it seems, as it is based off the idea that we should calculate the costs of the externalities (health harms, environmental impacts of pollution) as a subsidy.


Your tax dollars continue to pay fossil fuel companies to pollute (2017). This article says that fossil fuel subsidies are declining globally but that many countries still continue to subsidize for economic reasons.


Chatham House Fossil FuelsThis website has a number of articles about energy transitions that are available toward the bottom of the page. Most are generally supportive of the affirmative take on the topic.




America spends over $20 billion a year on fossil fuel subsidies. Abolish them (2018). This article explains the general environmental harms created by fossil fuel subsidies


Dirty energy dominance: Dependent on Denial (2017). This report argues that climate change targets cannot be met without reducing fossil fuel subsidies. It also has a review of many very particular subsidies.


Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Remain Large: An Update Based on Country-Level Estimates (2019). This paper updates estimates of fossil fuel subsidies, defined as fuel consumption times the gap between existing and efficient prices (i.e., prices warranted by supply costs, environmental costs, and revenue considerations), for 191 countries. Globally, subsidies remained large at $4.7 trillion (6.3 percent of global GDP) in 2015 and are projected at $5.2 trillion (6.5 percent of GDP) in 2017. The largest subsidizers in 2015 were China ($1.4 trillion), United States ($649 billion), Russia ($551 billion), European Union ($289 billion), and India ($209 billion). About three quarters of global subsidies are due to domestic factors—energy pricing reform thus remains largely in countries’ own national interest—while coal and petroleum together account for 85 percent of global subsidies. Efficient fossil fuel pricing in 2015 would have lowered global carbon emissions by 28 percent and fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46 percent, and increased government revenue by 3.8 percent of GDP.


Fossil fuel subsidies cost more than the defense budget (2019).  This article references an IMF report that claims US direct and indirect subsidies for FF production are really high ($500+ billion) and that eliminating them will be an overall boost to the economy.


US spends more money on dirty fossil fuels than defense
(2019). This brief article refers to the IMF report that claims that the cutting fossil fuel subsidies and transitioning to renewables will produce billions of dollars in economic gains.


Fossil fuels are underpriced by a whopping $5.2 trillion (2019).  This makes a similar argument to other articles that calculating the externalities of pollution as a subsidy is a very broad definition of a subsidy.


We must do more to speed up ending fossil fuel subsidies (2019). This brief article generally makes the case that we should reduce fossil fuel subsidies in order to reduce air pollution, though it says we should keep subsidies for liquified cooking gas.


Government handouts of public money undermine solutions to climate change (2018). This article summarizes a report — Public cash for oil and gas (2018) — that argues Canad’s government is increasing fossil fuel subsidies


Can ending fossil fuel subsidies pay for Beto O’Rourke’s climate change plan          (2019)


Fossil fuel subsidies for a green economy (2019)


Fossil fuel subsidies are wrecking the world (2019)


Proposal 5: Eliminating FF Subsidies (2019)


Affirmative – Climate


Fossil fuel subsidies are a rising threat to climate change efforts (2019)


Time for the US to end fossil fuel subsidies (2019) . A new study, the G7 Fossil Fuel Subsidy Scorecard, measured the US against other G7 countries on each country’s progress in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. The US ranked the worst out of the G7 countries, spending over $26 billion a year propping up fossil fuels. (The G7 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the US.)


How the United States could benefit from removing ineffective fossil fuel subsidies (2019)


Hitting 1.5C: The stark choices for governments (2018). This interview with one of the lead authors of the IPCC report argues that we must limit climate change to 1.5 degrees C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The author argues this is possible with an effective energy transition.


Global warming of 1.5 Degrees C.  (2019). This is the IPCC report that identifies the dangers of passing the 1.5C mark.


Affirmative — Racial Justice


Ethnic disparities in air pollution (2019). Racial–ethnic disparities in pollution exposure and in consumption of goods and services in the United States are well documented. Some may find it intuitive that, on average, black and Hispanic minorities bear a disproportionate burden from the air pollution caused mainly by non-Hispanic whites, but this effect has not previously been directly established, let alone quantified. Our “pollution inequity” metric is generalizable to other pollution types and provides a simple and intuitive way of expressing a disparity between the pollution that people cause and the pollution to which they are exposed. Our results are timely, given public debate on issues relating to race, equity, and the regulation of pollution.

Climate change is a global injustice (2018)


The hidden costs of fossil fuels (2018).


The fossil fuel industry and racial injustice (2018)


Pernicious placement of Pennsylvania’s power plants (2018)


Fossil fuel subsidies: A social justice perspective (2018)


Realizing a just and equitable transition to fossil fuels (2018)


Green Causes are not always colorblind: Racial disparities in energy issues (2019)


Affirmative — General Advantages

How the renewable energy transition is set to disrupt the global economy (2019). This article argues that renewables will avoid climate change, employee millions, and reduce resource conflicts over fossil fuels

Negative — General


Politics of fossil fuel subsidies (2019)


Five ways to address fossil fuel subsidies through the WTO and negotiated agreements (2019)


The madness of fossil fuel subsidies


Removing FF subsidies will not reduce CO2 as much as hoped (2019)


Environmental Justice in the renewable energy transition (2019)



Calling time on fossil fuel subsidies (2018)



How much would cutting fossil fuel subsidies really limit global warming? (2019)


Research Keywords


“Freedom from Fossil Fuels” plan