From: University of Sussex
Published March 13, 2017 01:42 PM

New research urges a rethink on global energy subsidies

The hidden toll that subsidies for electricity, fossil fuels, and transport have on social welfare, economic growth and technological innovation needs to be exposed through better research says a new paper in Ecological Economics by Benjamin K Sovacool.

Energy subsidies, which have mostly supported fossil fuels and nuclear power over the previous half century, have historically kept energy prices artificially low, compared to market rates. But they come at a high cost to governments and taxpayers. The Indian government, for example, spends as much as it does on fuel subsidies for kerosene and liquid propane, used to light rural houses, as it does on education. India subsidises fossil energy consumption by $21 billion every year, which works out at $16 per person. Given that 500 million of its people live on less than $2 per day, this is a surprisingly large amount.

Such costs aren’t benefiting the poorest households, meant to the key beneficiaries of the subsidies, because they have less money to spend on fuel and electricity in the first place. Of the tens of billions spent on fossil fuel subsidies in India in 2010, for example, less than $2 billion benefited the poorest 20% of the population. Instead, the subsidies benefitted wealthier households, which consume around 20 times more energy services than their poorer counterparts. They also tend to benefit energy companies and equipment suppliers.

Read more at University of Sussex

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