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Subsidies

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With over 10 years of experience, the IISD Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) is widely recognized as world-class leader in the quantification, evaluation and reform of subsidies.

Governments around the world spend at least a trillion dollars a year on subsidies to exploit the world's natural resources. But faced with increasing fiscal constraints, and concerned about making their economies cleaner, more inclusive and stable, governments are under increasing pressure to change course.

GSI works closely with governments to help them move away from subsidies that hinder sustainability. The goal is to encourage individual governments to undertake unilateral reforms on subsidy policy where these would deliver clear economic, environmental and social benefits. GSI also aims to generate a consensus in the World Trade Organization and in other forums on the need to take resolute, ongoing and systematic action to reduce or eliminate subsidies that are trade-distorting and undermine sustainable development.

  • Paper
    Shining a Light on Fossil Fuel Subsidies at the WTO: How NGOs can contribute to WTO notification and surveillance

    Shining a Light on Fossil Fuel Subsidies at the WTO: How NGOs can contribute to WTO notification and surveillance

    Fossil fuel subsidies undermine efforts to mitigate climate change and damage the trading system. However, multilateral discussion is hampered by inconsistent definitions and incomplete data.

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  • Blog
    Making the International Trade System Work for Climate Change:  Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies through the WTO and International Trade Agreements

    Making the International Trade System Work for Climate Change: Five Ways to Address Fossil Fuel Subsidies through the WTO and International Trade Agreements

    Can the international trade system be a catalyst for reforming fossil fuel subsidies (FFSs) to help relieve the burden on the public purse, reduce local and global air pollution, improve energy security and tackle climate change? 

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  • Blog
    The True Cost of Coal and Renewables in Indonesia

    The True Cost of Coal and Renewables in Indonesia

    Indonesia is facing an energy crunch as demand for electricity rises across the country. The country is one of the world’s largest coal producers, and is developing plans for an additional 35 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power stations. Proponents of the development claim that coal is the cheapest source of energy available. Is this really true? 

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  • Report
    Financial Supports for Coal and Renewables in Indonesia

    Financial Supports for Coal and Renewables in Indonesia

    This report shows that the “true cost” of coal, including subsidies and externalities such as GHG emissions and air pollution, is considerably greater than the cost of renewable energy in Indonesia.

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  • Policy Brief
    How to Respond When Prices Go Up: Objectives and options for fuel price adjustments in Indonesia

    How to Respond When Prices Go Up: Objectives and options for fuel price adjustments in Indonesia

    There are options to strengthen the fuel pricing mechanism in Indonesia. This policy brief highlights some options, including price smoothing, ratcheting and installation of price floors and caps, closing with recommendations.

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  • Policy Brief
    Kerosene Subsidies in India: The status quo, challenges and the emerging path to reform

    Kerosene Subsidies in India: The status quo, challenges and the emerging path to reform

    This Policy Brief examines the current system of kerosene subsidies in India, looking at key issues and the impact subsidies have on the distribution of clean, off-grid solar lighting solutions.

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  • Report
    The End of Coal Mining in South Wales: Lessons learned from industrial transformation

    The End of Coal Mining in South Wales: Lessons learned from industrial transformation

    The decline of coal mining in South Wales has important lessons for policy-makers and civil society grappling with the challenges of transition—what can be learned from this experience?

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  • Video
    Scaling Up Green Energy Finance Swapping Fossil Fuel Subsidies for Sustainable Energy Solutions

    Scaling Up Green Energy Finance Swapping Fossil Fuel Subsidies for Sustainable Energy Solutions

    This video by IISD Reporting Services provides an overview of the Bonn side event hosted by GSI, "Scaling Up Green Energy Finance: Swapping Fossil Fuel Subsidies for Sustainable Energy Solutions.". The event focused on how governments can scale up investments in green energy by “making the switch” from fossil fuel subsidies to sustainable energy subsidies.

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  • Report
    Making the Switch: From fossil fuel subsidies to sustainable energy

    Making the Switch: From fossil fuel subsidies to sustainable energy

    This report estimates fossil fuel subsidies to be around USD 425 billion. Such subsidies represent large lost opportunities for governments to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development. 

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  • Infographic
    Mind the Gap: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Could Fill the SDG Financing Gap

    Mind the Gap: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Could Fill the SDG Financing Gap

    Research suggests that removing all consumer fossil fuel subsidies would decrease global carbon emissions anywhere between 6–8 per cent by 2050. Swapping savings into sustainable energy would improve emissions reductions further.

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