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The Environmental Cost of Global Fuel Subsidies

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  • Lucas W. Davis

Abstract

Despite increasing calls for reform many countries continue to provide subsidies for gasoline and diesel. This paper quantifies the external costs of global fuel subsidies using the latest available data and estimates from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Under preferred assumptions about supply and demand elasticities, current subsidies cause $44 billion in external costs annually. This includes $8 billion from carbon dioxide emissions, $7 billion from local pollutants, $12 billion from traffic congestion, and $17 billion from accidents. Government incentives for alternative fuel vehicles are unlikely to cost-effectively reduce these externalities as they do little to address traffic congestion or accidents, and only indirectly address carbon dioxide and local pollutants.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucas W. Davis, 2016. "The Environmental Cost of Global Fuel Subsidies," NBER Working Papers 22105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22105
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:114:y:2018:i:c:p:123-133 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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