Subsidy Transitions

Written by dkoplow Posted: 01/13/2010 12:13 PM EST

With subsidy reform finally reaching the levels of the G20, I wanted to take a bit of time to acknowledge a number of recent transitions among people who have made important contributions to the state of knowledge in the subsidy arena.

First, congratulations to Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth (FOE), who was named the organization's President last September.  Erich rose through FOE heavily immersed in their subsidy work, including fossil energy, nuclear, and biofuels.  I've benefitted from his input many times over the years, and look forward to working with him as he continues to focus on subsidy transparency and reform from his new position.

Good wishes go to as well Joe Loper.  Most recently the Vice President for Research at the Alliance to Save Energy in Washington, Joe is shifting gears somewhat after 17 years there.  While Joe worked on many important energy projects over the years, the image strongest in my mind was him suffering alongside me in the early 1990s as we struggled to get a handle on US government subsidies to energy, and then to explain it in a way that less wonkish folk than ourselves could actually understand.  Early in his tenure at ASE then, Joe focused on the  states, while I grappled with the federal level.  For both of us, what we thought at the outset to be a manageable project turned into an undertaking of immense scope and struggle.  That said, his work on framing and characterizing state subsidies to energy remains valuable nearly 20 years on.

Hussein Abaza, Chief of the Economics and Trade Branch (ETB) within the United Nations Environment Programme, is also leaving after 32 years at the UN, 27 of which were spent within UNEP.  Under his tenure, ETB undertook a number of projects on energy subsidy transparency, and has been an important player in establishing traction for global reform of fisheries subsidies.  I first met Hussein through their energy subsidy work, and later supported their work on structuring effective economic instruments for environmental protection as a researcher and as part of their expert workgroup on the topic.   My hope is that he stays involved with environmental protection in some capacity.

Finally, a note that Jim Morris of the Sunlight Foundation is returning to the Center for Public Integrity, a DC-based organization focusing on investigative journalism.  During his two year tenure at Sunlight, Jim worked to ramp up their subsidy evaluation program both in terms of content and software.  The work fed in to Pew's Subsidyscope initiative for greater transparency on government subsidies.  There is little doubt that the worlds of investigative journalism and subsidies will continue to be closely entwined.  If you have story suggestions, please send them his way.