NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GASOLINE AT $6 VS. WARMING?

April 9, 2007

A recent European Environment Agency (EEA) study reported greenhouse-gas emissions from motor vehicles continue rising due to increased driving, despite heavy fuel taxes that boost prices there above $6 per gallon. Even with gas prices more than twofold that in the United States, Europe falls short of its global-warming goals, says Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Consider:

  • Gasoline taxes were higher in Europe than the United States even before Kyoto (the 1997 multilateral treaty to combat global warming) and average nearly $4 per gallon, pushing the pump price well above $6.
  • In comparison, gasoline in the United States is subject to federal taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon and varying state and local taxes, for a total of 42 cents per gallon on average -- putting the price for regular gas in the United States around $2.58 per gallon.
  • The British, Germans, French, Belgians, Dutch and Italians now shell out $6.55, $6.45, $6.21, $6.44, $7.09 and $6.24 per gallon, respectively, for premium gas; yet they are driving more, not less.

Joel Schwartz of the American Enterprise Institute believes that despite the costs of owning and operating an automobile, people choose automobiles the world over because no other form of transportation comes anywhere close to providing comparable speed, flexibility, privacy and convenience.

Even at $6 per gallon, many Europeans -- whose per capita incomes are lower than those in the United States -- are willing to cut back on other things rather than cut back on driving. Most European Union nations aren't on track to meet their Kyoto targets because of increasing CO2 emissions, and "the main reason for increases between 1990 and 2004 was growing road transport demand," notes the EEA. It expects the upward trend in driving to continue.

Source: Ben Lieberman, "Gasoline at $6 vs. warming?" Washington Times, April 9, 2007.

 

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