New book out now! Paying the Polluter – Environmentally Harmful Subsidies and their Reform

A number of commitments to reform environmentally harmful subsidies (EHS) have been adopted in recent years at both global and national levels. The economic downturn and the need for budget cuts and fiscal discipline have also added further momentum to this agenda. However despite efforts and growing recognition of the need for subsidy reform, progress has been slow and the overall level of explicit and implicit subsidies remains substantial. EHS reform is at an early stage for most sectors, a number of barriers remain and efforts need to be further strengthened and accelerated if progress is to be made.

Paying the Polluter – Environmentally Harmful Subsidies and their Reform edited by Frans Oosterhuis of IVM and IEEP’s Patrick ten Brink provides a timely contribution to current discussions on how to embark on EHS reform. Leading experts in the field explore key issues including how to identify and measure EHS, how to assess impacts and potential benefits of reform, barriers and opportunities to reform, issues and lessons learnt across different sectors, and practical toolkits to support reform.

The book includes contributions from a range of internationally renowned experts from policy research institutes (IEEP, IVM, VISTA, Ecologic, VITO), academia (University of Leuven, VU Amsterdam, Delft University, University of Barcelona), NGOs (Green Budget Germany) and international bodies (OECD, UNEP, and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity). This book is aimed at policy makers and their advisors as well as think tanks, academics, NGOs and other actors interested in this issue. We hope that this book will contribute to the momentum on reforming EHS across sector policies in Europe and beyond.  

‘The financial means embedded in subsidies for unsustainable systems of production and consumption are increasingly well studied and reported. This has led to policy recommendations (e.g. OECD, EU) on how to reform subsidy systems in support of the necessary transitions to a low carbon and ecosystem resilient society based on a strong resource efficient economy. The authors in this book contribute to the debate based on recent, high quality and policy relevant research. It is a timely contribution to a pressing financial issue in environmental policy.’ 
Hans Bruyninckx , Executive Director of the European Environment Agency


  1. Introduction: high hopes and down- to- earth realism – F. Oosterhuis and P. ten Brink
  2. A global survey of potentially environmentally harmful-subsidies – R. Steenblik
  3. Hidden subsidies: the invisible part of the EHS iceberg – S. Withana, P. ten Brink, L. Mazza and D. Russi
  4. Can we recognize an environmentally harmful subsidy if we see one? – J. Pieters
  5. Quantifying the impacts of environmentally harmful subsidies – C. van Beers and J.C.J.M. van den Bergh
  6. Energy subsidies – F. Oosterhuis and K. Umpfenbach
  7. Environmentally harmful subsidies in the transport sector – L. Franckx and I. Mayeres
  8. Agriculture, food and water – F. Oosterhuis and K. Bachus
  9. Environmentally harmful subsidies and biodiversity – P. ten Brink, M. Lehmann, B. Kretschmer, S. Newman and L. Mazza
  10. Reforming EHS in Europe: success stories, failures and agenda setting – J. Cottrell
  11. Phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies worldwide – A. von Moltke
  12. Reform of environmentally harmful subsidies: distributional issues – A. Bruvoll and H. Vennemo
  13. The way forward: reforming EHS in the transition to a green economy – P. ten Brink, S. Withana and F. Oosterhuis
  14. Appendix 1: classifying and estimating government support –  R.Steenblik and J. Sauvage
  15. Appendix 2: a subsidy reform tool – P. ten Brink and S. Withana

For further details and to order a copy of the book, please visit the Edward Elgar website.

For more details on IEEP’s work on EHS visit our market-based instruments page or contact Patrick ten Brink and Sirini Withana.

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New book out now! Paying the Polluter - Environmentally Harmful Subsidies and their Reform

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