Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheap Gas - Even With a Voluntary Tax

I wrote yesterday about the experimental voluntary 'carbon tax' at Cobb Hill - where many of my neighbors have agreed to pool $1/per gallon of gasoline that we use during August and September.

In Bonn a few weeks ago I picked up a flyer with the picture shown above in it (from GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Coperation and Development). It shows international gasoline prices for 2009.

The figure shows, from the lowest price at the top to the highest at the bottom, the average price citizens pay for a liter of gasoline in each country.

I added the big yellow arrows for the US average (just between Angola and Jordan) at 56 cents per liter, and the US average plus the Cobb Hill voluntary tax (which moves us up to the company of the Republic of Congo and Pakistan), but still in the bottom half of the price distribution.

If you follow the link to the actual data, you'll see that the countries with the most expensive gasoline are not monolithic. You'll find some of the wealthiest countries that have excellent public transportation and walkable cities, like Denmark or the Netherlands, and some of the poorest countries, like Burundi and Eritrea. What I don't think you will find are countries whose cities have reputations for excellent public transportation or biking or walking amongst those countries in the top fourth of the graph, where the US currently sits.

You get what you pay for, as my grandmother always said. Somehow our $1 tax isn't seeming so steep anymore.

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