Energy Subsidies

"Stay out – refueling" reads a barrier at a gas station in Santiago. Credit: Daniela Estrada/IPS.

CHILE: Controversial Fuel Taxes and Subsidies

In 2008, Chile’s state coffers took in just over one billion dollars from the specific tax on fuels. But at the same time, the government injected 700 million dollars into a fund that year to shore up fuel prices and made another 500 million available in case the price of oil continued to rise.

Beneficiaries of Malawi's cash transfer scheme are nominated by local community leaders based on need. Credit:  Mick Yates

POVERTY: Cash Transfers Transform Lives of Malawi’s Poor

Malawi has taken major strides towards reducing poverty and hunger in the country. Government’s cash transfer scheme has managed to reach many of those usually unable to access grants due to lengthy and complicated bureaucratic processes and assessments.

Palownia tree shoot. Credit: Photo Stock

CHILE: Biofuels Head to the Forests

Chile has set its sights on producing second-generation plant-based fuels from forest biomass within the next five years. But before that it must consider the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of such an endeavour, warn experts and activists.

 Credit: Fidel Márquez/IPS

VENEZUELA: The Cost of the World’s Cheapest Gasoline

The world’s most inexpensive gasoline is sold in Venezuela, through a longstanding subsidy programme that benefits car owners while depriving the oil industry of a large source of funds for reinvesting.

Woman carrying gas cylinder in Buenos Aires slum. Credit: Malena Bystrowicz/IPS.

ARGENTINA: Companies Pocketing Gas Subsidy for the Poor

Companies that produce and distribute liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Argentina are benefiting from large government subsidies aimed at bringing down the price of the fuel, which 40 percent of the population depends on for cooking and heating.

A busy 'sasti roti' (subsidised bread) outlet in Lahore.  Credit: Qaiser Khan/IPS

WORLD FOOD-DAY-PAKISTAN: Hunger, Poverty Initiatives Suspect

As Pakistan’s food crisis deepens, with an estimated 60 million people facing food insecurity, the GCAP (Global Call to Action Against Poverty) plans to hold rallies through the weekend demanding ‘’public accountability’’ even for hunger and poverty alleviation initiatives.

DEVELOPMENT: Challenging the Bio-fuel-Hunger Paradigm

Participants at The Third India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Business Forum 2008 came together here to debunk the belief that development of bio-fuels would invariably exacerbate global hunger. Conventional wisdom has it that increased production of bio-fuel - particularly ethanol - will invariably result in decreasing acreage for food grain production, rising food prices and a surge in hunger and malnutrition. Participants at the Forum - held in New Delhi during the lead-up to the third IBSA Summit - declared that this was not necessarily true.

ENVIRONMENT-US: Florida Hopes Energy Farm Will Be First of Many

If an experiment to plant sweet sorghum in rural Florida and convert it to fuel ethanol pans out, it could herald a fundamental change in how the U.S. and other countries create and use renewable bio-energy, researchers say.

Sen. Barack Obama Credit: Bankole Thompson/IPS

OBAMA: "Subsidising Big Oil Makes No Sense"

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama sat down with IPS correspondent Bankole Thompson again on Thursday for a one-on-one interview in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where over 15,000 enthusiastic Obama supporters turned out to hear his message of change at downtown's Calder Plaza.

'US taxes on a gallon of gasoline are 45 cents compared to four dollars in most of Europe.' Credit: Steve Leahy/IPS

U.S.: Great Place for the Oil Business

Why do U.S. oil companies - some of the most profitable corporations on the planet - receive 20 to 40 billion dollars a year in subsidies from the U.S. government?

By end-2007, Sarawak Hidro, the Bakun Dam developer, had outstanding borrowings of 1 billion dollars from a state-managed workers' pension fund and pension trust fund. Credit: Raymond Abin/IPS

MALAYSIA: Murum Dam – Public Funds for Corporate Profit?

Who will foot the bill for the Murum resettlement? ''Is it Sarawak Energy or will it be passed on directly to the state government and hence the tax payer,'' asked one Sarawak-based activist, who declined to be identified.

The proposed Murum Dam is just 60 km upstream from the 2,400 Mw Bakun Dam (in the picture.) Credit: Raymond Abin/IPS

MALAYSIA: Power-Surplus Sarawak Funds Another New Dam

Preliminary work on a 3 billion ringgit (875 million dollar) dam in Murum in the north Borneo state of Sarawak has put the spotlight on a controversial scheme to build a string of public-funded dams to provide cheap electricity for energy-intensive industries to the state.

ECONOMY-US: Activists Target Corporate Chiefs' Tax Subsidies

U.S. taxpayers shell out 20 billion dollars a year to pad business chiefs' earnings and to prop up the world's most lopsided corporate pay scales, say activists seeking to highlight inequality in this election year.

Xe Om (motorbike taxi) drivers await custom in Hanoi.  Credit: Matt Bennett/IPS

VIETNAM: Coping With Skyrocketing Fuel Prices

Nguyen Van Minh has just delivered a consignment of apples from China in his modified Hyundai at Long Bien market where, each night, hundreds of trucks pull up laden with fruits and vegetables from distant provinces and neighbouring countries.

TRADE: Subsidies (and Food Prices) Soar at Doha

Bias in the WTO proposals to reform agricultural trade, which are being analysed for the second consecutive week, will definitely aggravate the food crisis caused in recent months by the high prices of farm commodities, according to Aftab Alam Khan, an expert with the non-governmental organisation ActionAid.

Sir David King Credit:

Q&A: "Humans Are Now the Primary Drivers of Our Climate"

Humanity faces enormous challenges at the start of the 21st century, says Sir David King, Britain's former chief scientific advisor and now director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University in England.

PHILIPPINES: Jatropha Key to Self Sufficiency?

The jatropha plant may be the key to addressing the problems of energy and food self-sufficiency in the Mekong region. Cultivating this hardy plant will not only provide biofuel but will also ensure that agricultural lands devoted to food production will not be diverted to fuel crops.

BRAZIL: Agroenergy Can Boost Food Production – Experts

The web of truth and lies surrounding the controversy over agrofuels has led to the distortion or oversight of certain facts. For instance, making biodiesel from soybeans does not reduce food production, but increases it, according to experts.

INDIA: Forum Addresses Rural Energy Security

For poor rural women in India, access to energy connotes having the means to own a non-polluting stove and lantern that can help them cook, do household chores and earn a living. And yet even these basic needs are barely met - a majority of these women still spend much of their time and effort collecting firewood and cow dung for cooking and lighting.

ENVIRONMENT-CHINA: Banking on Wind Power

China plans to triple its wind power capacity over the next two years in line with the central government’s goal of promoting clean energy and more sustainable economic development, says a senior policy development official.

LATIN AMERICA: Factors in Climbing Food Prices – A Baker’s Dozen

Where today’s high food prices are concerned, there are 13 villains of the piece: the structural and circumstantial causes associated with supply and demand, according to the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA), which says that to tackle them, regional cooperation is essential.

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