Bill McKibben at’s recent Rally to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies. (Photo by

In just a few weeks, world leaders are converging on Rio for a landmark “Earth Summit” to talk about sustainability issues — but it’s time for them to stop talking and start doing. And we know where they can begin.

This year our governments will hand nearly hundreds of billions of dollars in government subsidies to the coal, gas, and oil industries. Instead, they should cut them off.

Cutting fossil fuel subsidies could actually take a giant step towards solving the climate crisis: Phasing out these subsidies would prevent gigatonnes of carbon emissions and help make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels.

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And here’s the thing: This demand is completely reasonable — so reasonable that the leaders of the big countries have already agreed to it. The G20 promised in 2009 that fossil fuel subsidies would be phased out in the “medium term.” But the political power of the corporate polluters scares them, and so no nation has yet followed through.

If we want real action to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, we need to give world leaders a people-powered push as the Rio Summit approaches — and that push starts now with this global call to action.

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Why focus on subsidies? Well, remember those pictures we took all over the world a few weeks ago, the ones where hundreds of thousands of people rallied in places wrecked by the drought, flood, fire, and melt that come with climate change? The billions in fossil fuel subsidies handed out to the fossil fuel industry are driving those climate disasters, and it’s time for us, and our political leaders, to connect the dots. Those billions should be spent investing in the world we want — in renewable energy, in efficiency, in public health and education — not sent to the corporate polluters who are super-heating our planet and threatening our future.

How are we going to ensure world leaders make good on their commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies? With a huge global groundswell of citizen pressure. Our friends at Avaaz, the planetary network for social good, are helping to lead this fight — already there are over half a million people signed on. In the U.S., hundreds of thousands of activists are pushing for landmark legislation to remove $113 billion in American fossil fuel subsidies over the next 10 years. But now we need a truly international effort in the lead-up to the Rio Earth Summit — which means enlisting you, and your friends.

Click here to sign on and spread the word.

After you sign on, please share the campaign with anyone you know who cares about the future. Or, for that matter, anyone who cares about not wasting their tax money by sending it to the richest industry on earth.

We’ll deliver the signatures on June 18, when world leaders arrive for the Earth Summit — in fact, we’ve got big plans brewing for some exciting ways to make sure our message in Rio is unignorable. But first we need you on the list, so please sign on today.