Paying the Polluter

Paying the Polluter

Environmentally Harmful Subsidies and their Reform

Edited by Frans H. Oosterhuis and Patrick ten Brink

Pledges to reform environmentally harmful subsidies (EHS) have increased over the past few years, at both global and national levels. Paying the Polluter addresses the most important issues to be considered when embarking upon these necessary reforms.

Chapter 9: Environmentally harmful subsidies and biodiversity

Patrick ten Brink, Markus Lehmann, Bettina Kretschmer, Stehanie Newman and Leonardo Mazza

Subjects: environment, environmental economics, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy

Abstract

By adopting the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010 committed to eliminate, phase out or reform incentives (including subsidies) that have harmful effects on biodiversity by 2020 at the latest. This task is a Herculean one, and not just because of their prevalence. As subsidies and other market distortions that result in harmful incentives are an integral part of the policy landscape, they are frequently difficult to identify, isolate, and remove. It is also a Sisyphean task: in an ever-changing policy landscape, new subsidies are frequently introduced, and new evidence about their impacts is continually cropping up. Sometimes it is only when combinations of policies and programmes are taken together do they generate harmful environmental effects, such as the incentives for urban sprawl or for biofuels. In some instances, even the combinations of programmes may not be the only cause of the problem. Such features add to the complexity in identifying and addressing harmful incentives. This chapter explores what types of subsidies have negative impacts on biodiversity. It looks at positive incentive measures for biodiversity and explores the relationship between harmful and positive incentives. Finally, it explores what needs to be done to realise the commitment of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, building on positive case examples of successful reforms.

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