Perverse subsidies

Green Tax Shift Many American oil companies still receive subsidies in the form of funding for oil exploration. Oil in the US is not taxed as high as other countries. The oil industry also receives massive subsidies in the form of free roads. The community as a whole foots the bill for road construction and maintenance, while those who do not use the roads or limit their use cannot avoid paying for them. This also encourages road transport companies to grow by making it cheaper to transport goods by road when other forms of transport such as rail would be cheaper if the transport cost reflected the real cost to the community (just in terms of construction and maintenance - ignoring the pollution costs).

Farms are another environmentally destructive practice that receive huge subsidies. This is a hangover from the war years where food security was important for national security. Farm lobby groups have hung on to these subsidies while many others were eventually removed. The US and Europe are the worst offenders, but Australia also gives subsidies in the form of drought relief, which tends to go to the wealthier farmers because the poorer farmers cannot afford the application process. These days US farm subsidies go towards keeping beef, corn (for syrup) and potatoes cheap, which also happens to be the main ingredients for fast food. The production of beef especially has a high environmental cost for the amount of food produced.

Until recently, Indonesia subsidised fuel by 50%. There were protests when these subsidies were removed. Some African and middle eastern countries still subsidise petrol - or if they are really poor they subsidise kerosene for cooking and lighting.