LAST time it met, in 2009, the G20 took a stand against a little discussed problem that unites environmentalists and economists: fossil-fuel subsidies. Over the course of the subsequent year, the nations contributed to a list of the “inefficient” subsidies they supported and the things they planned to do about it. So far, this list is unimpressive.
Publication or article
In its September 2009 Communiqué from Pittsburgh, the G20 nations (“Group of Twenty” nations that include the largest economies in the world) committed to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.”
Interesting article by Amory Lovins in The Weekly Standard examining the history and market-related problems associated with nuclear subsidies past and present. Lovins suggests that the structure of many of the proposed nuclear programs do a poor job aligning incentives and accountability for proper risk management and oversight, and create a significant risk of recreating conditions similar to those that led to the meltdown in mortgage markets two years ago. Lovins uses subsidy data from Earth Track, and suggests shifting from always adding new subsidies to various energy forms
Analysis of the Scope of Energy Subsidies and Suggestions for the G-20 Initiative (and Related Documents)
This joint report to the G20 Finance Ministers and Leaders was issued by the IEA, OPEC, OECD and World Bank in response to a request by G20 Leaders when they met in Pittsburgh in September 2009. At that time, leaders agreed to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption” and asked the study authors to jointly provide "an analysis of the scope of energy subsidies and suggestions for the implementation of this G20 country initiative”.
The ability to undertake any meaningful subsidy reforms, either nationally or multilaterally, is hampered by a basic lack of knowledge about the extent of support to the sector and where information on this support might be held. This multi-country research effort identifying and classifying different sources of data on fossil-fuel subsidies has begun to characterize the extent and nature of subsidy programs, identifying the analytical challenges that need to be overcome in order to de-subsidize.
Department of Energy: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve DOE’s Ability to Evaluate and Implement the Loan Guarantee Program
DOE has taken steps to implement the Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) for applicants but has treated applicants inconsistently and lacks mechanisms to identify and address their concerns. Among other things, DOE increased the LGP’s staff, expedited procurement of external reviews, and developed procedures for deciding which projects should receive loan guarantees. However, GAO found:
This document is addressed primarily to those individuals who are interested in preparing estimates of subsidies to particular products or sectors—people who engage in what might be called “subsidy accounting.” Unlike financial accounting for the business sector, or public-sector accounting for governments, there exists no agreed set of standards for producing such accounts.
Adapted from the report's introduction:
This study addresses a wide array of scientific, economic and technological issues related to the use of forest biomass for generating energy in Massachusetts.
Identifying the real costs of competing energy technologies is complicated by the wide range of subsidies and tax breaks involved. As a result, U.S. taxpayers and utility users could end up spending hundreds of billions, even trillions of dollars more than necessary to achieve an ample low-carbon energy supply, if legislative proposals before the U.S. Congress lead to adoption of an ambitious nuclear development program, Mr. Cooper said in a report last November...