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Removing Fuel Subsidies: How Can International Organizations Support National Policy Reforms?

International Environmental Agreements, Forthcoming

17 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2016  

Joel Smith.

Columbia University

Johannes Urpelainen

Johns Hopkins SAIS

Date Written: September 5, 2016


This article investigates how international organizations can support fuel subsidy reform. Departing from earlier studies, we focus on the ability of international organizations to assist national governments directly in the enactment and implementation of national reforms. While international organizations lack the capacity to directly enforce policy or force countries to abolish subsidies, they can increase the cost of reform reversal by governments that have a preference for reform but worry about the credibility and durability of their reforms. Moreover, international organizations can support learning from peers. In practice, governments interested in subsidy reform can announce a public commitment and submit progress reports to peer review by other countries under the auspices of an international organization. We characterize the institutional design of international organizations for success, discuss the role of the civil society in the process, and offer short illustrations from recent efforts by international organizations to promote fuel subsidy reform.

Keywords: fuel subsidies, energy policy, international organizations, policy reform

Suggested Citation

Smith., Joel and Urpelainen, Johannes, Removing Fuel Subsidies: How Can International Organizations Support National Policy Reforms? (September 5, 2016). International Environmental Agreements, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Joel Smith.

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Johannes Urpelainen (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins SAIS ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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