03/20/2012 09:45 EDT | Updated 05/20/2012 05:12 EDT

By the Time You Click, Big Oil Has Received $2,000

Stop reading, take a breath, and wait one minute.

Your government just gave over $2,600 to the fossil fuel industry.

Add up all these minutes and you get just under $1.4 billion each year that Canada is currently giving to some of the richest corporations on the planet. According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress, profits from five of the world's largest oil companies all rose in 2011 with a total profit of $137 billion. All this while producing less oil on a global scale. 

Looking globally, the International Energy Agency has calculated that ending fossil fuel subsidies from 37 of the planets most polluting nations would bring the entire planet halfway to keeping global temperature rise below 2°C, the scientific red-line for preventing worst case climate change scenarios. In hard numbers, ending subsidies equals deep the kind of deep emissions cuts that have been sorely needed for years, cutting 750 million tonnes of CO2 every year by 2015, totalling 2.6 gigatonnes by 2035.

At home, we are facing rumours of a coming federal austerity budget that could push unemployment even higher in Canada. On top of this, debt is increasing across Canada and both of these factors are hitting youth especially hard. According to the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives' Alternative Federal Budget, instead of subsidizing pollution, this $1.4 billion could reduce university tuition by 57 per cent across Canada. In doing so we would be making education more accessible, and starting to take on the ever-increasing student debt load in Canada.

This is just one example of the dozens of things that $1.4 billion could go towards, from green energy transition strategies to job creation plans, affordable childcare, and much more. Take renewable energy for example: Not only would a $1.4 billion investment into making renewable energy technology affordable and accessible bring us closer to building a just and sustainable future, investments in renewable energy have a higher rate of job creation per dollar than the fossil fuel industry. A study by the Center for American Progress shows that for each dollar invested into the fossil fuel sector an average of 5.3 jobs are created, the same amount invested into the renewable sector yields an average of 16.7 jobs.

Simply put, neither our planet, our economy, or my generation can afford to keep paying these subsidies. No one, and especially not the richest corporations on the planet, deserve a minimum wage of $157,000 per hour, especially with youth unemployment continuing to climb and while their pollution outputs are endangering the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe.

In the words of one former Conservative Member of Parliament, this shouldn't even be a debate, its a "no brainer."