Pumping us dry with a diesel tax increase

Petrol PricesCould it be au revoir to lower gazole prices at the pumps?The fact that France is not a consumer-led economy was brought home to diesel-driving staff on the Riviera Reporter by the reaction to the proposed rise in tax on gazole to bring prices into line with petrol at the pumps. This is seen as a “welcome shot in the arm for French refineries struggling with overcapacity” rather than a hefty kick in the goolies for Joe Motorist.

The move, proposed by the government's auditor at the end of March (2013) and supported by the French environment minister, is likely to run into opposition from France's diesel carmakers and vocal professions such as farmers and truck drivers, experts reckoned. But not much of a whimper is expected from those ordinary civilians who have brought diesel-engine vehicles to take advantage of lower fuel prices.

France's diesel imports account for €10 billion of the country's €61 billion energy deficit, but it produces too much petrol.

Diesel accounts for 80% of road fuel used in France. One litre of diesel costs €1.42 on average in France while petrol costs €1.62 – in the UK it’s the other way around.

Diesel has been favoured by motorists and therefore carmakers on the basis that it offers greater fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

But the “good fuel” argument has been questioned after the World Health Organisation suggested last year that diesel fumes can cause cancer.

A “Back to Gas” move is likely to take years however, and the government said no decision would be taken before a committee on environmental tax policy submits proposals in the coming months, after which the government would consider including measures in France's 2014 budget.