* Average gasoline tax falls 13.3 pct from 2003-15 - Nature
* Trend at variance with pledges to limit global warming
* Consumption shifts to nations with lower taxes or
By Alister Doyle
OSLO, Jan 9 Average taxes on gasoline worldwide
have tended to fall in recent years despite promises by many
nations to do more to limit global warming, a study showed on
Gasoline, or petrol, the most common fuel used to power
cars, emits the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when burnt.
Tax paid on the average litre of gasoline fell 13.3 percent
to 24.2 cents in the first half of 2015 from 27.9 cents in the
same period of 2003, according to the global review of prices.
The decline is paradoxical because 83 nations including
China, Brazil and Indonesia raised gasoline taxes in the period,
far outnumbering the 46 that cut taxes, scientists at U.S.
universities wrote in the journal Nature Energy.
"(But) even though a majority of countries reformed their
gasoline taxes, progress towards higher taxes at a global level
was thwarted by a shift in consumption towards countries that
had subsidies or lower taxes," they wrote.
Oil exporters led by Saudi Arabia made big cuts in taxes or
boosted subsidies in the period. Other major nations that
reduced taxes slightly included the United States, Japan and
Germany, despite promises to curb greenhouse gas emissions and
It did not examine each nation's reasons for the changes.
"Most countries have not yet moved beyond baby steps" to
impose hefty taxes on carbon dioxide emissions, despite worries
about climate change, lead author Michael Ross of the University
of California, Los Angeles, told Reuters.
The study also looked at global subsidies on energy and
The International Monetary Fund has estimated the total cost
of fossil fuel subsidies worldwide at $5.3 trillion a year,
including damage from air pollution or heat waves, floods and
droughts stoked by climate change.
Monday's study said it was hard to pinpoint energy subsidies
because they were often hidden, for instance in long-term
contracts for a state-run coal mine to supply a power plant.
That made gasoline taxes one way of tracking policy changes.
It said, for instance, there was no sign of a decline in
gasoline taxes across the Group of 20 major economies, even
though they had agreed in 2009 to phase out "inefficient fossil
Peter Wooders, Director of Energy at the International
Institute for Sustainable Development think-tank in Geneva,
praised the study as a step to help track energy price reforms
that are often opaque.
G20 "subsidies tend to be elsewhere in the energy system -
notably the exploration and production of oil, gas and coal and
to fossil-fuel electricity generation, notably from coal," he
(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Gareth Jones)