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Joint Lund University and Stockholm Environment Institute Workshop: ”The Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Their Reform”

Event start: 20160615
End date: 20160616

Event description

Lund University and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) invite applications for their international workshop on “The Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidies”, to be held 16-17 June 2016 at SEI Stockholm. The workshop is funded by the project “International Economic Institutions and Domestic Actors in the Climate Regime Complex” (funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and the Swedish Research Council Formas) and the SEI Initiative on Fossil Fuels and Climate Change. It is endorsed by the Earth System Governance project.

Fossil fuel subsidies are increasingly attracting attention in both academic and policy circles. While research has led to insights into the economic and environmental consequences of these subsidies, the associated political aspects have received insufficient scrutiny. Yet studying the political causes, consequences and normative implications of fossil fuel subsidies and the emerging efforts to reform them is crucial for understanding such subsidies and their reform. Furthermore, while the concept of fossil fuel subsidies and the idea of addressing a range of different policies under the heading of fossil fuel subsidies both are relatively new, the policies now characterised as fossil fuel subsidies are not new. Consequently, questions arise regarding the political causes of this recent interest in fossil fuel subsidies, the consequences of addressing them on the international and national level, and the normative implications of the subsidies and the drive to reform them.

This workshop attempts to address these gaps by bringing together social science scholars working on fossil fuel subsidies and establishing a coherent overview of their academic endeavours. Empirical, theoretical and normative contributions addressing these issues are particularly welcome.

Workshop themes

Proposals in the forms of paper abstracts are invited on the following workshop themes:

– The politics of defining fossil fuel subsidies: The definition of subsidies – a seemingly bureaucratic and technical exercise – has great ramifications for their study and identification of options for reform. The wide-ranging estimates by different international organizations (e.g. the IEA and the IMF) point to different assumptions about fossil fuel subsidies, and about who should be held responsible for them. Similarly, while there is mounting understanding of consumer subsidies, subsidies for fossil fuel producers have largely stayed out of the spotlight. Papers under this theme could, for example, explore: how and why different international organizations choose to define “subsidies”; the political implications of focusing on consumer versus producer subsidies; and political challenges in defining subsidies at the national level.

 – The political economy of fossil fuel subsidies and their reform: As several countries have started to implement fossil fuel subsidy reform, new insights are emerging on how to address such subsidies. Yet, the conditions under which fossil fuel subsidies were put in place – and have been maintained over time – are equally important and require further study. Papers under this theme could, for example, explore: insights from political economy research for understanding the challenges to fossil fuel subsidy reform; lessons learned from case studies of successful and unsuccessful subsidy reform; and possibilities for using climate finance to support and promote fossil fuel subsidy reform.

– The international governance of fossil fuel subsidies: Several international institutions have become active in the field of fossil fuel subsidies, for instance by agreeing on broad phase-out commitments and peer-review processes (the G-20) and by measuring the extent of subsidies (e.g. the IEA, the IMF and the OECD). Papers under this theme could, for example, explore: the underlying motivations for these institutions to address fossil fuel subsidies and their reform, as well as their effectiveness; the role of non-governmental organizations (e.g. the Global Subsidies Initiative) in the international governance of fossil fuel subsidies; the prospective roles of institutions that so far have remained largely on the sidelines (e.g. the WTO and UNFCCC); the (potential) interactions between these various institutions; fossil fuel subsidy reform as an emerging norm; and fossil fuel subsidies in the light of North-South relations and equity debates.


Paper proposals must include:

  • Name of the paper-presenter(s), current position and affiliation.
  • A short CV (no longer than 2 pages).
  • A paper abstract of no more than 300 words. The deadline for the submission of paper proposals is Monday 23 November 2015. Paper proposals, as well as informal queries, should be sent to Jakob Skovgaard ( and under the subject heading: “Stockholm Fossil Fuel Subsidies Workshop”. Selected participants will be notified by January 2016.

Full papers (of up to 7,000 words) should be submitted one month before the event.

Workshop format and follow-up

The number of participants is limited to 20-25 (presenters and discussants). Participants may be asked to act as discussants or chairs. The primary output of this workshop will be an edited volume published with a leading international publishing house. After the workshop, the organizers will provide constructive feedback for the follow-up; strict deadlines for the final version of the papers will be set.

Travel and Accommodation

Funding is available to cover travel and accommodation for a limited number of participants. Applicants should clearly state that they would like to opt in for funding when they submit their paper proposal.

Workshop Organizers

Dr Jakob Skovgaard, Lund University (

Dr Harro van AsseltStockholm Environment Institute (



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