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U.S., Mexico have lowest gas, carbon taxes in rich world

Exhaust fumes from a car in Putney High Street on January 10, 2013 in Putney, England.

When it comes to taxing carbon emissions, Turkey "leads" and North America "lags."

Climate change has world leaders thinking lots about fossil fuel subsidies that encourage use, and taxes that discourage it. The club of rich countries known as the Organisation for Co-operation and Development (OECD) has recommended phasing out subsidies that lower the price of "dirty" energy. In 2010, the OECD tallied $409 billion in global carbon subsidies for producers and consumers.

On the tax side? A new report shows a big variance.

THE GRAPH:

source: OECD

THE (PARA)GRAPH:

It's a tad tricky to read. (Speaking for myself, Euros-per-gigajoule is not a particularly familiar unit of measure.)

But you get the idea: North Americans tax gasoline and diesel at an awfully low rate, relative to our rich cousins around the world. The difference is a factor of 10 or 20 when it comes to gasoline.

(And if you look at the price of gas, seemingly every European country's gas costs more than U.S. gas.)

Whether that's a good or bad thing -- what do you think? 

Couple other findings:

*Gasoline in general is taxed at a higher rate than diesel (per unit of carbon)

*For heating and industry, oil is taxed more than natural gas. Coal is taxed far less, even though it emits more.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.
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