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.