Subsidies for biofuels in the United States have reached levels unimagined when support for an "infant industry" began in the late 1970s. Today, the infant has grown into a strapping behemoth with a powerful sense of entitlement and an insatiable appetite for ethanol's primary feedstock: corn. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a record corn harvest of 13.2 billion bushels, 9 percent larger than the harvest of 2008.
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One way to correct market failures is tax shifting -- raising taxes on activities that harm the environment so that their prices begin to reflect their true cost and offsetting this with a reduction in income taxes. A complementary way to achieve this goal is subsidy shifting. Each year the world's taxpayers provide at least $700 billion in subsidies for environmentally destructive activities, such as fossil fuel burning, overpumping aquifers, clearcutting forests, and overfishing.
This report summarizes the Climate Policy Initiative Workshop, hosted at DIW Berlin, that took place in November 2009.
At their meeting in Pittsburgh in September 2009, G20 Leaders called for an additional evidence base to support efforts by the member nations to reform and remove fossil fuel subsidies. At a workshop in Berlin in November 2009 we discussed the definition and quantification of energy subsidies, the evaluation of their impact, and the political economy of their reform.
Gaining Traction: The importance of transparency in accelerating the reform of fossil-fuel subsidies
An accurate picture of the level and nature of subsidization is a necessary first step towards reform. Reliable information facilitates an assessment of the subsidy's costs, distribution and impacts, and the development of effective strategies for reform. At the international level, it provides a foundation for dialogue on reform and for monitoring of progress towards de-subsidization.
The purpose of this report is to urge consistency in the development and implementation of federal administrative policies. Even as President Obama has pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, the Federal Government prepares to establish limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and the Administration fosters a transition to a low carbon economy, some Federal agencies continue to have policies and programs that provide substantial subsidies for the construction, expansion, and life extension of one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. - coal-fired power plants.
Reforming subsidies to fossil fuels is a challenging prospect for many governments. To help policy-makers better appreciate the trade-offs between economic, environmental and social impacts, various organizations have analyzed fossil-fuel subsidies and their effects, often with the aid of complex economic models.
Petroleum product subsidies have again started to rise with the rebound in international prices. This note reviews recent developments in subsidy levels and argues that it is necessary to reform the policy framework for setting petroleum product prices in order to reduce the fiscal burden of these subsidies and to address climate change. In 2003, global consumer subsidies for petroleum products totaled nearly $60 billion. They are projected to reach almost $250 billion in 2010.
Review of key federal policy trends in the energy sector, identifying the unprecendented scale of interventions, and the inadequate attention being paid to incentive alignment and assessment of leverage points.
Beginning on slide 6, the presentation provides a specific review of how the government's large scale loan guarantee programs (such as under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the proposed much larger federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration") are not structured to achieve proper risk management or high success rates.
Despite industry advertising to the contrary, an analysis by the Center of American Progress determined that ACCCEs companies spend relatively few dollars conducting research on carbon capture and storage, among the most promising clean coal technology to reduce global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. This technology would allow power plants to capture 85 percent or more of their carbon dioxide emissions and permanently store them underground in geological formations.