THE fossil fuel industries, coal, oil and gas, insist that the only reason why renewable energy schemes are developing, wind farms, solar panels and the like, is because they receive subsidies to help them compete. However that’s only half the story.

The other half is the level of subsidy that the fossil fuel industries themselves depend on, and it’s significantly higher as the figures indicate.

In 2015 the cost of providing these CO2 producing fuels was so large that it’s difficult to comprehend. It was of the order of five trillion dollars and it looks more like its real gigantic value when expressed numerically - how about 5,000,000,000,000 dollars.

Four fifths of this total is to provide and support oil and gas exploration, development, processing and transport, including new pipe lines, and over half the new oil fields would not be developed without subsidy. Similarly three out of four new coal fields need supporting, and many costly coal sites in China and India are closing.

Closer to home the UK provided £5 billion in 2016 to support the deep water gas and oil fields around our coasts so becoming one of few countries investing more in fossil fuels as it reduced the support for local small scale solar panels, and banned subsidies for onshore wind turbines.

It means a UK reduction of one billion pounds investment by 2020 which is probably an attempt to offset the excessive cost of the new nuclear reactor, Hinkley Point C, to be built by the French and Chinese, but they’re another story. It’s rising by the day, now over 20 billion, twice the cost of the London Olympics, and with a guaranteed price per unit that’ll be double that from renewable electricity, and it might well not be in use until 2030.

However some better news is that last year new investment in world renewable energy schemes was twice that of CO2 producing fuels and by 2030 they’ll provide just over half the global electricity though that’s likely to be too late to stabilise temperatures.