Stop subsidies polluting the World


Courtesy of European Environmental Bureau

Many subsidies are not only economically inefficient; they also harm the environment. Environmental NGOs have been calling for the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies for many years. The Parliament and Council of the European Union have also called for “reforms of subsidies with considerable negative effects on the environment”, in their Sixth Community Environment Action Programme.1 The European Commission went as far as setting a clear target in its sustainable development strategy, submitted to the Gothenburg Council in 2001: “Phase out subsidies to fossil fuel production and consumption by 2010.”

But in reality, not much has happened to achieve progress. The EU-15 missed the opportunity to start an ambitious programme for phasing-out environmentally harmful subsidies (EHS). Now, with 25 EU-Member States, the dimension of the problem has grown because every Member State has a different subsidy regime with specific regulations and beneficiaries.

Therefore the EEB calls on the EU to reform its subsidy policies, putting forward seven key specific demands. After setting out these demands, the EEB explains the environmental threats posed by specific subsidies and the opportunities arising from reforming them. Thereafter, this paper provides examples from three sectors of environmentally harmful subsidies, together with the EEB’s concrete demands for tackling them.

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