The International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimate that governments and taxpayers spent roughly $500 billion in 2010 supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels through subsidies.
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, in a statement, said, however, that renewable energy was the fastest-growing part of the energy sector. Without a change in mindset, she said, governments risk having only a carbon-heavy energy future.
"As the IEA's analysis has shown, without an urgent and radical change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system," she said.
The World Bank this summer reported that leading world economies should end subsidies for fossil fuel use to help developing countries adapt to climate change. Van der Hoeven said that advancements in renewable energy should move beyond advanced economies to usher in a sustainable energy future.
"Renewables already play a central role in fostering sustainability and energy security, and their significance will only grow in the coming decades," she said.