Towards a grand deal on subsidies and climate change

TitleTowards a grand deal on subsidies and climate change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
Authorsde Moor, A
JournalNatural Resources Forum
KeywordsEnergy subsidies, Kyoto Protocol, Reform barriers, Subsidy reform

Recent studies have identified public subsidies as a principal cause of unsustainable development. Worldwide, governments are spending up to $US950 billion a year on subsidies. Many of these public subsidies fail to serve their purpose and in fact, often turn out as policy failures as they further distort trade and cause environmental harm. The energy sector is among the most subsidized sectors in the world, receiving over $US240 billion per annum of public subsidies. This article highlights current energy subsidies and their implications. The article examines: (i) the global size and distribution of energy subsidies in industrialized and developing countries; (ii) the impact of these subsidies on the economy, equity and the environment and their role as barriers for sustainable development; (iii) the political economy behind public subsidies and the various political and institutional barriers and lock-in mechanisms that cause subsidies to become entrenched in economic and public structures; and (iv) proposals for effective subsidy reform in energy policies, suggesting a global strategy to eliminate energy subsidies. OECD governments are in a position to take the lead, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change presents an excellent opportunity of striking a political grand deal and linking the reform of energy subsidies to a meaningful participation of developing countries to the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, if sinks are to be included in the clean development mechanism (CDM), it is crucial to include the removal of forestry subsidies in the grand deal. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.