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Political Economy Obstacles to Fuel Taxation

Henrik Hammar, Asa Lofgren and Thomas Sterner

Year: 2004
Volume: Volume 25
Number: Number 3
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol25-No3-1
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Many studies have shown that fuel demand is quite elastic and that the best way to reduce fuel use (to tackle climate issues) is by taxing fuel. Yet it seems almost impossible to do so, particularly in those countries with low prices and high demand. The purpose of this paper is to cast light on the difficulties of raising gasoline taxes by analyzing the determinants of gasoline taxation. We believe that one of the reasons for the difficulties is that political pressure influences the political decisions regarding taxation of gasoline consumption. Not only do low taxes and thus low prices encourage high consumption, but high levels of consumption also lead to considerable pressure against raising the taxes. Our findings also point to the significance of other factors such as government debt (a higher debt leads to a higher gasoline tax rate).

Refining the evidence: British Columbia’s carbon tax and household gasoline consumption

Chad Lawley and Vincent Thivierge

Year: 2018
Volume: Volume 39
Number: Number 2
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.2.claw
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The impact of carbon prices on consumer behavior is a central element in current policy debates dealing with mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. We examine the impact of British Columbia's carbon tax on private automobile gasoline use. We control for several factors that influenced gasoline demand during our study period, including local public transit improvements and increased cross-border shopping. Our results suggest that a 5 cent per litre carbon tax reduced gasoline consumption by 8%. We find that households residing in Vancouver and other cities responded to the carbon tax, whereas households in small towns and rural areas did not respond. We perform several sensitivity analyses. Even our most conservative lower bound estimate suggests that a 5 cent per litre carbon tax reduced gasoline consumption by 5%.

Explaining the Evolution of Passenger Vehicle Miles Traveled in the United States

Benjamin Leard, Joshua Linn, and Clayton Munnings

Year: 2019
Volume: Volume 40
Number: Number 1
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.40.1.blea
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After growing steadily for several decades, passenger vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the United States unexpectedly leveled off in the 2000s. The growth rate of VMT has since rebounded, and determining the factors that explain these developments has implications for future U.S. oil consumption and vehicle pollution. We show that changes in the demographics and economic characteristics of households in the United States, rather than in driving habits, explain most of the recent dynamics. This suggests that over the next decade, VMT in the United States will continue to grow roughly at historical rates, causing substantially higher oil consumption and pollution than if persistent changes in driving habits explained the recent changes in VMT. The projected VMT growth will raise the cost of meeting energy security, climate, and local air quality objectives.

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