Mission and Site Usage
Earth Track's Mission
Based in Cambridge, MA, Earth Track works to develop comprehensive and accurate information on government interventions that harm environmental quality, with a primary focus on energy markets. These interventions include a range of complex programs including tax breaks, below-market loans or insurance, loan guarantees, direct grants, regulatory exemptions, or subsidies associated with direct government provision of energy goods or services. The interventions can act either as subsidies (artificially reducing the cost of certain commodities) or as taxes (artificially increasing the cost of certain commodities).
While global efforts are underway to curb climate change, restructure energy markets, and transition to cleaner energy sources, there is very little information on how existing policies impede the achievement of these goals. Similar challenges exist in many other natural resource areas, from global overfishing and deforestation, to broad expansion of agricultural lands to produce biofuels. With accurate and timely information on the role subsidies play in distorting market choices, governments and private investors can make better decisions on what resources to use and what new technologies to invest in.
We are working to establish a combination of direct research programs, and partnerships with organizations and individuals around the world with similar interests, in order to greatly improve the information base on which important energy and environmental policy decisions are made. Our objective is:
- Standardized. Consolidate and standardize information on government interventions in energy markets from hundreds of sources and data providers in countries around the world.
- Unbiased. Provide an unbiased source of information on these policies outside of the pressures and politics of international organizations.
- Accessible. Present information on subsidies and complicated financial, accounting, and regulatory policies in a manner accessible to non-technical audiences.
- Holistic. Present a holistic picture of the impact of government policies by energy type, type of policy, or geographic region.
- Quantitative. Quantify the value of existing subsidies and taxes whenever possible to allow evaluation of time trends, patterns across fuels and regions, and to serve as inputs to macro-economic models.
- Growing. Improve available valuation tools to make subsidy valuation easier to do over time.
Through its website and reports, Earth Track plays an educational role as well, helping people to understand how subsidies work and informing local, national, and international bodies about government interventions in their geographic region or market segment. Better visibility on the interaction of subsidies on energy markets, environmental quality, trade, and fiscal health can improve the alignment between environmental goals and fiscal and regulatory policies.
Who Is Earth Track?
Doug Koplow founded Earth Track in 1999 to more effectively integrate information on energy subsidies. For the past two decades, Mr. Koplow has written extensively on natural resource subsidies for organizations such as the Global Subsidies Initiative, the National Commission on Energy Policy, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Greenpeace, the Alliance to Save Energy, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. He has analyzed scores of government programs and made important developments in subsidy valuation techniques.
His work outside of the subsidy area has included water conservation, wastewater treatment, hazardous waste tracking, recycling, and brownfields redevelopment. Working collaboratively with other organizations, Earth Track focuses on ways to more effectively align the incentives of key stakeholder groups and to leverage market forces to help address complex environmental challenges.
Mr. Koplow holds an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and a BA in economics from Wesleyan University. He served on United Nations Environment Programme's Working Group on Economic Instruments from 2001-2004; and the National Recycling Coalition's Policy Workgroup from 1998-2003. He is currently serving as an advisor to the Pew Center's Subsidyscope initiative.
Prior to founding Earth Track, he worked with Industrial Economics (Cambridge, MA); Temple, Barker and Sloane (Washington, DC); and Sobotka and Company (Washington, DC).