Energy Policy:

Other Nations' Policies to Reduce Oil and Coal Use in Transport and Industry

RCED-93-139: Published: May 28, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined energy use in Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea, focusing on: (1) factors influencing the type and amount of energy the countries use; and (2) the countries' key energy policies and programs to promote energy efficiency and oil and coal conservation in their industrial and transportation sectors.

GAO found that: (1) the factors influencing energy consumption include the price and availability of energy resources, climate, population density, and economic factors; (2) energy intensity has generally decreased in all countries except South Korea; (3) industrial sectors have lowered energy consumption and transportation sectors have increased energy consumption, particularly oil, due to the increased number of vehicles and distances traveled; (4) oil consumption and intensity have decreased while coal consumption has increased; (5) Japan and France have increased their use of nuclear energy due to their lack of natural energy resources; (6) Germany has decreased the percentage that fossil fuels contribute to its energy supply despite its high domestic coal production; (7) Canada produces more energy than it consumes, but its widely dispersed population, cold climate, and low energy prices make it one of the most energy-intensive countries; (8) South Korea has increased its energy consumption and intensity by rapidly modernizing its economy; (9) the United States remains relatively energy intensive due to energy availability and low prices; (10) the countries impose taxes on motor fuels and the purchase and ownership of automobiles and have substantially higher gasoline prices than the United States due to the taxes; (11) gasoline taxes make up the bulk of energy and oil taxes; (12) the countries' vehicle taxes, in general, vary with the capacity of an automobile engine; (13) the United States imposes similar but smaller taxes on fuels and vehicles, and is emphasizing converting future vehicles to nonpetroleum fuels; (14) the countries' policies for promoting energy efficiency and conservation in the industrial sectors include special tax treatment and subsidies for investment in energy-saving equipment and mandated energy audits for large industrial energy consumers; (15) the United States provides no direct financial incentives for energy conservation, but does make some use of energy audits; and (16) the countries' policies aim at influencing the choice among different types of fuels and ensuring stable oil supplies and prices.

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