Energy subsidies are a long-debated issue as regards their efficacy, efficiency and relationship with the problem of climate change. These questions have been recently included on the agenda of the G-20, after the Leaders’ Summit held in Pittsburgh in September 2009. Paragraphs 29 and 31 of the Leaders’ Statement set forth a course of action for member countries. In those paragraphs, fossil-fuel subsidies are questioned on the grounds that they can be inefficient and encourage wasteful consumption, and it is therefore proposed to phase them out over the medium-term, while recognizing the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services.
September 13, 2010 |Earlier this summer the GSI published a 150-page manual, Subsidy Estimation: A survey of current practice. The document is mostly a compilation of verbatim quotations on definitions of subsidies from various inter-governmental organizations, and documentation of estimation methods for particular subsidy elements. It is intended for use primarily by individuals who are interested in preparing estimates of subsidies to particular products or sectors—people who engage in what might be called “subsidy accounting.” But we hope that it will also serve as a catalyst for kick-starting a dialogue on the need for a common, consistent set of international “subsidy accounting standards”.
Commentary: Energy subsidies in the context of sustainable development
September 12, 2010 |
Editor’s introduction: in late 2009 and early 2010, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) helped prepare a Joint Report, Analysis of the Scope of Energy Subsidies and Suggestions for the G-20 Initiative, in partnership with the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. The purpose of the study was to analyse “the scope of energy subsidies” and provide suggestions for the G-20’s initiative to phase out and rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, and it was submitted to the G-20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Toronto, Canada, on 26-27 June 2010. In this article, the OPEC Secretariat explains its findings and perspective on the role of energy subsidies and their relationship with sustainable development.
Commentary: Bolivia's Energy-Sector Intervention is a Missed Opportunity for Economic Development
On 1 May 2010, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced the nationalization of four power companies as part of a ceremony to mark International Workers' Day.
May 17, 2010 |In just four years the Indian government has had three high-level committees recommend how petroleum product prices should be determined. All three have shared the same general conclusions: the government should reform fuel-price subsidies and use other, more effective policies to improve the welfare of the poor. But the reality behind India's reluctance to liberalize prices is not a lack of good policy advice.
Commentary: The Public Goods Paradigm and the EU's Common Agricultural Policy
May 17, 2010 |
From the outside, the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) may look immutable. The only major effect of the reform passed by farm ministers in 2009, dubbed the ‘Health Check', was to dissipate more serious ambitions for change for the rest of the EU long-term budget (2007–2013).
Commentary: Diminishing Expectations: Broken Promises in the Development of Cellulosic Ethanol Production
The United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently acknowledged that, despite generous levels of taxpayer funding, cellulosic ethanol was not scaling up as quickly as they had hoped. So they reduced the 2010 cellulosic ethanol mandate from 100 million gallons to 6.5 million gallons.
January 10, 2010 |In 2004 the U.S. Congress created a USD$ 1/gallon (US$ 0.264/litre) blenders' tax credit for biodiesel that was slated to expire in 2006. But in 2005 it extended the tax credit through the end of 2008 and, before that year was up, extended it again, through 2009.
Commentary: A Grain of Salt Needed with Promises of Cheap Desalination
The irony of water scarcity on a planet 70% covered by ocean does make us gaze longingly at the seas as the ultimate answer. The public, politicians and water authorities continue to hope that cost-effective and environmentally friendly desalination - the removal of salt from seawater to make it drinkable - will come to the rescue of water-scarce regions.
Commentary: Walking the tightrope: balancing effectiveness against cost in the Netherlands' feed-in tariffs
December 5, 2009 |
A feed-in electricity tariff is a policy mechanism used in many countries to support renewable energy technologies until they can compete with other methods of generating electricity.
December 5, 2009 |The Iranian government recently announced their intention to phase out several of its subsidies. The reform bill, the outlines of which were approved by the parliament in November, aims to eliminate subsidies over a five year period, the most notable being Iran's fossil-fuel subsidies.
October 14, 2009 |Transparency, one of the fundamental norms of the trading system, is increasingly seen as an essential tool in the governance of international trade.
Commentary: The Tough Politics of Energy Subsidy
October 10, 2009 |
Governments spend staggering sums of money subsidizing energy—in particular fossil fuels, but increasingly also other forms of energy such as renewables. The latest global assessment, published last year by the International Energy Agency, puts the total energy subsidy at far more than US$300 billion annually.
March 4, 2009 |The dramatic decline in the demand for cars has been a signature effect of the global economic crisis. Faced with a massive drop in sales - for example, 29 per cent in the case of Toyota and 49 per cent across the General Motors brands - the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and more recently, South Korea, Brazil, Japan and China have concluded that government bail-outs are both justifiable and necessary for the health of their auto sectors.
Commentary: The hidden cost bearers of India's internal race for investment
The proportion of public spending on health by India fell from an already low 1.3 percent of GDP in 1991 (when the economic reforms began) to 0.9 percent by 2005 (Myanmar and Sudan are among the countries that spend more).
July 30, 2008 |Last month, Oxfam GB launched an emergency appeal for East Africa. Oxfam’s last call for emergency help for the region was in 2006, and there have been countless others before, precipitated by drought, conflict or, like now, both. But this time, something is different. There is food on shelves, but people can’t afford it.
Commentary: Fertilizer Subsidies in Malawi: Preparing an Exit Strategy
During the 1990s, Malawian farmers experienced a rough transition from government policies that controlled and supported the agricultural sector, such as fertilizer subsidies and price stabilization, to a more liberalized agricultural policy environment.
May 29, 2008 |On 30 November, Uruguayan Ambassador Guillermo Valles Games and chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) released a first draft of a text outlining possible disciplines to regulate fisheries subsidies.
May 29, 2008 |The European Union fisheries sector is firmly part of the global fisheries crisis. In Europe more than 80% of known resources are over-fished, while overseas EU fleets have done more than their share to bring commercial productivity of the oceans to an all-time low.
May 29, 2008 |Agricultural is the leading consumptive user of water, accounting for between 70 to 90 percent of the total water used in developing countries and more than one third of the water consumed in many OECD countries.