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Global Energy Subsidies: An Analytical Taxonomy

Listed author(s):
  • Ross McKitrick

    ()

    (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Guelph)

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    Governments around the world have pledged to eliminate or sharply reduce subsidies to energy firms in order to increase economic efficiency and reduce environmental externalities. Yet definitions of subsidies vary widely and, as a result, estimates of their global magnitude vary by orders of magnitude. I review why energy subsidies are so difficult to define and measure. I show why some non-standard measures are very poor proxies for subsidy costs and in fact may vary inversely with them. In particular, recent attempts to treat unpriced externalities as subsidies yield especially misleading results. In general, energy subsidies as conventionally understood do exist but only comprise a small portion of some very large recently-reported estimates, the bulk of which are indirect measures that may have little connection with actual costs to governments or allocational inefficiencies.

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    File URL: http://www.uoguelph.ca/economics/repec/workingpapers/2016/2016-09.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 1609.

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    Length: 30 pages
    Date of creation: 2016
    Handle: RePEc:gue:guelph:2016-09
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