Press release

IISD's Global Subsidies Initiative releases Biofuels - At What Cost? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in selected OECD countries

September 25, 2007

By 2006, government support — provided both nationally and sub-nationally — for biofuels in leading Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) producing countries had reached US$ 11 billion a year. That figure is bound to rise sharply in coming years, a development that should be a source of concern for Finance Ministries.

"The problem, as we saw it, was that nobody was really monitoring the situation, at least in respect of the levels and effects of subsidies and trade barriers," says David Runnalls, President and CEO of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). "The question has to be asked: can governments justify gambling so much of the public's money when the benefits are so questionable? Do biofuels represent the best use of scarce resources? And what does this mean for sustainable development?"

The new report by the Global Subsidies Initiative, Biofuels — At What Cost? Government support for ethanol and biodiesel in selected OECD countries, by Ronald Steenblik, GSI's Research Director, provides an overview and analysis of subsidies to biofuels in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland and the United States. This synthesis report precedes upcoming individual country reports on subsidies to be released over the next few months.

The next major release is of the EU country study, Biofuels: At What Cost? Government Support for Ethanol and Biodiesel in the European Union. The report will be launched under the auspices of Parliamentarians for Global Action (GLOBE) at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007.

For more information about the Global Subsidies Initiative go to

For media requests, please contact:

  • Javed A. Ahmad
    Communications Director
    The Global Subsidies Initiative
    IISD-GSI, 9 chemin de Balexert
    1219 Geneva, Switzerland
    Phone: +41.22.917.8848
    Fax: +41.22.917.8054

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.