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The expert: It is intended that people should be upset by the price of gasoline


A high gasoline price reduces consumption - and is one of the most effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This is according to Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at the Gothenburg School of Business. - I have full respect for those who are upset by a high gasoline price, but that's a bit of the point, he says.

Globally, carbon dioxide emissions are still increasing. And it is urgent to turn the curve if we are to avoid a disaster, says Sterner.

- There has been a lot of talk about climate for decades now. It is not enough to talk about things, the price is the one that has the greatest effect on people's behavior in the end, he says.

Thomas Sterner thinks that the carbon dioxide tax that currently exists on gasoline is at a good level, but that it should be raised in the long run.

"Help the countryside in other ways"

When it comes to the criticism that the countryside is worst hit by a high gasoline tax, and thus a high price, Thomas Sterner says there is something in it, but that lowered gasoline tax is not the right way to go.

- You should do other things for the countryside, support biofuels and renewable energy, for example. I have full respect for those who are upset that gasoline is expensive, but that's the point. It creates a conversion pressure.

A high gasoline tax means that interest in more energy efficient motors, electric cars, buses and living closer to work is increasing, says Sterner.

Big demonstrations in France

Thomas Sterner and France's then-President Francois Hollande.

Thomas Sterner is an internationally recognized researcher, who was one of the main authors of the IPCC's (UN Climate Panel) fifth report. On Monday, Thomas Sterner received a medal from the Gothenburg School of Business. With the Pro Studio et Scientia medal, GU wants to "pay attention to and honor people who have made extensive efforts to develop the school's operations."

Unrest in France

He has also met several French presidents to talk about the Swedish carbon tax. And in France, there were big demonstrations and unrest in 2018 when President Emmanuel Macron introduced the increase in diesel and gasoline taxes.

- After all, they managed to abolish the wealth tax in France, which was about the same amount, while introducing the gasoline tax. It was insensitive and stupid. Of course, you should instead find targeted support that reaches roughly the same groups that bear the cost of the increased gasoline tax, says Thomas Sterner.

"It's about avoiding a disaster"

It is important not to stare blindly at injustice in the minor reforms, he says.

- The big question is to avoid a major disaster that will affect us all. Globally, we are talking about tens of billions of dollars in estimated costs if we do nothing about the climate.

Source: svt

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