The Politics of Fossil-Fuel Subsidies

34 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2009

See all articles by David G. Victor

David G. Victor

UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Date Written: November 1, 2009

Abstract

Summary: governments spend staggering sums of money subsidizing fossil fuels, with many harmful consequences for public budgets, energy markets, and pollution. While there is widespread agreement among analysts that most of these subsidies serve no legitimate purpose, cutting subsidies has proved extremely difficult. This paper explores the politics of subsidy creation and reform and suggests some strategies for improving the odds that reformers will be politically successful. Subsidies exist often because they are the only reliable mechanism available to governments that are under pressure to provide benefits to politically well-organized groups. Not understanding the political economy of subsidy policies can prevent successful reform, and the report argues that successful subsidy reforms often require broader reforms and improvement in public administration to create mechanisms that can compensate political losers.

It is available at: http://www.globalsubsidies.org/en/research/political-economy

Keywords: energy subsidies, climate change, reform, political economy, public administration, pressure groups, coal, oil, fossil fuels, electricity

JEL Classification: H7

Suggested Citation

Victor, David G., The Politics of Fossil-Fuel Subsidies (November 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1520984 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1520984

David G. Victor (Contact Author)

UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

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