Where do these data come from?

The data on this website were produced by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) as part of the 2023 study Mapping India’s Energy Policy 2023: A decade in action. It builds on a 2017 subsidies database that was established by IISD, ICF India and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

Where possible, our subsidy estimates are drawn from official government sources, such as documentation pertaining to the process of budget drafting and execution, performance monitoring, reports of state-owned companies, annual reports and tariff orders of electricity DISCOMs. In cases where it was not possible to identify an existing official government estimate, various approaches have been used to quantify subsidies independently, following standard international methods. All reported subsidy values are adjusted for 2023 values and calculated for the Indian fiscal year, where FY 2023 refers to the year beginning in April 2022 and ending in March 2023. USD values are converted from INR values using Reserve Bank of India notified rates for 2023.

What are subsidies anyway? And why do they matter?

There are debates about the difference between “subsidy” and the broader term “support”—but a pretty good plain English definition is “a financial benefit that the government gives, often to a specific business, group or industry”. It’s also roughly how the World Trade Organization (WTO) defines the term. We use the WTO definition to identify subsidies for this database because it is the most widely adopted definition of subsidy, agreed by all 164 WTO members, including India.

Subsidies matter because they are used by governments around the world to influence energy producers and consumers. For producers, subsidies alter the relative competitiveness of different energy technologies and send a signal about national priorities, influencing investment decisions and shaping the energy mix. For consumers, subsidies can make different energy types more or less affordable, influencing consumption decisions and social well-being. We need transparency on what subsidies exist and how much they cost in order to know whether public resources are aligned with ambitions for a clean energy transition.

Indeed, 193 countries have committed to fossil fuel subsidy reform as part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 on responsible consumption and production. SDG indicator 12.c.1 asks countries to track progress against, “Amount of fossil fuel subsidies per unit of GDP (production and consumption)”. All countries are recommended to report on fossil fuel subsidies as part of their efforts under the UN Agenda 2030. Further, in the Glasgow Pact, all UN member countries committed to “rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures… and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable”. Shifting government support from fossil to clean energy is an important pillar in commitments to shift financial flows in support of climate ambition.

What types of subsidies exist?

Energy subsidies are often distinguished by whether they mainly benefit energy producers or energy consumers.

The WTO also recognizes four main types of subsidy mechanism,

  • Transfers of funds and liabilities: Such as grants, credit support or paying for health, accident and environmental costs.
  • Revenue foregone: Such as tax breaks or lower taxes than equivalent goods
  • Below-value goods or services: Such as below-market access to government-owned energy resources, land and infrastructure
  • Income or price support: Such as regulations that create transfers of financial benefits between market actors, like fixed prices for motor fuels, feed-in tariffs or biofuel blending mandates.

Can this database be used to support reporting under SDG indicator 12.c.1?

The United Nations Environment Program has published its recommended methodology for countries to report on their fossil fuel subsidies to track progress against Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.c.1. This is based on the WTO definition, but it categorizes subsidies into slightly different groups, taking into account ease of reporting. Policy-makers and researchers who are interested in tracking India’s progress against SDG 12.c.1 can do so by downloading the underlying datasheets from our work, in which policies have been classified by both WTO and SDG definitions.

Where can I find more information?

IISD’s Global Subsidies Initiative has produced a wealth of information on energy subsidies and their impacts globally and in India.

Our detailed study Mapping India’s Energy Policy 2023: A decade in action, provides an analysis of these data and their implications for India’s energy sector ambitions. In addition to energy subsidies, it includes data on state-owned enterprise (SOE) capital investments, lending by public financial institutions (PFIs) and energy-related revenue collection.

For in-depth analysis on key sub-components of government support for energy in India, see:

COVID-19 recovery

Targeting energy access subsidies: Electricity and LPG

Support for solar power and electric vehicles

Coal power and Just Transition

Previous editions of mapping government support in India

Data on India are also featured in IISD’s global data and analysis on government support for fossil and clean energy, including: