Fossil fuel subsidies constitute a sizeable burden on public finances and contribute significantly to environmental problems including climate change and local air pollution. Consequently, reforming fossil fuel subsidies constitutes an opportunity for mitigating climate change while saving expenditure. Yet notwithstanding the broad agreement among expert communities about the benefits of reforming fossil fuel subsidies and the high-level commitments to do so, the level of concerted political action is still low. While they undoubtedly matter, economic factors alone (e.g. fluctuating oil prices) cannot explain why and how some countries have put in place fossil fuel subsidies, why they are maintained, and why – in some cases – they are successfully reformed. In addition, attention needs to be paid to the political dynamics of fossil fuel subsidies. Studies increasingly seek to do so for subsidies for fossil fuel consumption.

This panel aims to extend these insights also to subsidies for fossil fuel production. Drawing on insights from experts on both developed and developing countries (including Australia, Colombia, Norway, South Africa and the United States), the panel will explore the role of different actors (and their interests and strategies), ideational factors (e.g. knowledge, ideas, norms) and structural factors (e.g. socio-political characteristics of a country) that may influence producer subsidies, or efforts to reform or remove them. By doing so, the panel will seek to establish what makes the politics of producer subsidies unique, and how it differs from consumption subsidies. Practically, the panel will identify possible strategies to reform producer subsidies.