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People and Politics Forum 13. 06. 2008

"When are you going to leave your car at home?"

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More information:

Feeling the Pinch: How Energy Prices are Hitting German Consumers

Oil and gas prices have almost doubled in the last decade, and more price increases are ahead. As the prices rise, so too is the pressure on politicians to act. Some are now demanding a cut in energy taxes. Meanwhile business is booming for oil companies. and that's prompted Germany's monopolies' commission to launch an investigation into whether prices are being kept artificially high. In the meantime, consumers are left with only one choice: pay up or go without. We take a closer look at the crisis on the world's energy markets.

Our Question is:

"When are you going to leave your car at home?"

René Junghans, in Brazil, writes:

"We have enough self-produced oil here in Brazil, and on top of gasoline we also have enough biofuel for our cars. Over the past two years, prices have been generally stable in Brazil despite brutal price jumps on international markets. Car sales are booming with increasing congestion on our roads..and I only use my car when I have to. Sadly, public transport is totally overburdened during the rush hour. I hardly drive more than 300 kilometers a month, and I view cars as an added comfort that I could do away with anytime."

Albrecht Hegele, also in Brazil, says:

"We are pensioners and live outside the city. We use ethanol to fill up the tank, but to get into the city - a distance of just 5 kilometers - an electric-powered car would do. But they are not on sale here."

In the Philippines, Rolf Bockmühl also says it's time to be sensible:

"Pretty soon I'll be selling my gas-guzzling vintage car...That'll be my gas-saving contribution. The environment must come first! My hobby must come second, and reason must win! ALL of us must do something to save energy!"

Gerhard Seeger in the Philippines is scathing:

"In Manila,I use the urban railway system, which is good for my nerves and only takes 20 minutes in contrast to nearly 2 hours it would take me by car. The oil price thing at the moment is simply a rip-off fired by international speculators, with the oil companies practising their routine business of extortion."

Christian Hassmann, in Austria, sees a solution:

"Public transport isn't extensive enough in most countries (mostly because of privatisation) or so overpriced that it can't compete. A so-called "speculation tax" paid to the UN could help to advance sustainable energy. .."

and some rhymed gloom from Erwin Scholz in Costa Rica:

"Oil producers make a buck,

but they'll soon be outta luck,

The end of oil is now afoot,

and many a car will just stay put."

Erich Prinz, in Thailand, is also skeptical:

"Bio fuels are driving up prices and hurt the environment more than
they help.They also trigger soaring cereal prices which in turn
escalates food prices. The simplest solution would be to only use a
car when absolutely necessary, and the best idea is to switch to
public transport. That saves money and at the same time shields the
environment from harm."

And this from Shahzadeyev,in Azerbaijan:

"Never having learned to drive, and moving to the US at the age of
twenty, ten years ago, I learned to rely on public transport all
the time. I think I now consider myself blessed."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.