COLOGNE (Germany aEUR") Bernd Mueller is at a gas station near Cologne's airport. He watches as the numbers rise quickly on the pump. He also sees the numbers rising to show how much gasoline is being used. But it's happening much slower. It was painfully slow.
Mueller, 80, stated, "I'm getting rid my car this October/November." "I'm retired and there's gas and all the rest. You have to reduce your efforts at some point.
Drivers like Mueller around the world are changing their lifestyles and personal finances due to skyrocketing gasoline and diesel prices. This is a result of Russia's war against Ukraine and the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Inflation is a major driver worldwide, with energy prices driving up living costs.
Vietnam's motorcycle taxi driver switches off his ride-hailing app to save fuel and avoid burning precious fuel in rush hour backups. An August vacation for a French family is cut short by a French family. California graphic designer adds the cost of gas to the bill for a night out. When calculating the cost of driving her son from Rome to camp, a mom mentally adds a pizza night.
The decisions made by countries and consumers around the globe are just as diverse as their own. Get out your bicycle. Use the subway, train or bus. To save fuel, use a lighter touch when you pedal the gas pedal. Is it worth the road trip? Or perhaps even go carless.
The solution for the millions of people who can't afford to use public transport or don't want to drive is to pay more.
Nguyen Trong Tuyen, a motorcycle taxi driver who works for Grab's online ride-hailing service, stated that he had been just switching off the app during rush hour.
He said, "If I get stuck at a traffic jam the ride fee won’t cover the gas cost for the trip."
Customers are unable to book rides if drivers stop offering services such as Tuyen.
Ronald Sibeyee, a Filipino jeepney driver, used to consume 900 pesos ($16.83), of diesel per day in Manila. This colorfully decorated vehicle was popular for public transport in the Philippines. It was built from U.S. military Jeeps left behind following World War II. It's now as high as 2,200 pesos ($41.40).
"That should have been our current income." He said that there is nothing left, or any other income. Due to fuel price increases, his income has dropped by 40%.
The complex cost of crude oil, taxes and purchasing power of each country, as well as government subsidies, are all factors that influence gasoline and diesel prices. Oil prices are in dollars. If a country is an importer of energy, the exchange rate is important. The recent weakening euro has contributed to higher gasoline prices in Europe.
Geopolitical factors are often a factor, like the conflict in Ukraine. Buyers shunning Russian barrels and Western plans of banning the country's oil have caused tight supply to energy markets already suffering from the rapid rebound of the pandemic.
Global oil prices are around $110 per barrel. However, there is no global pump price due tax or other factors. You can pay more than $10 per gallon in Hong Kong and Norway. It can cost around $7.50 per gallon in Germany and $8 in France. Although the average U.S. gallon of gasoline is $5 cheaper due to lower fuel taxes, this is still a record-breaking price.
Higher energy prices cause stress in the poorer countries. However, Americans and Europeans are also feeling squeezed. Americans are less likely to have access to public transport. Even Europe's transit networks can't reach all citizens, especially those who live in rural areas.
Charles Dupont is the manager of a clothing shop in Essonne, south of Paris. He simply needs to use his car for his commute to work.
He said, "I practice eco driving, which means I drive slower and avoid sudden braking."
Others are making every effort to reduce their carbon footprint. Letizia Cecinelli filled her car at a Rome station and said that she was bicycling and trying to cut down on car trips.
"But what if I have a child and have to take him to camp?" She said that she had to make an extra pizza.
Pump prices can become political dynamite. The U.S. President Joe Biden has urged Saudi Arabia to pump more oil in order to bring down gas prices. He plans to travel to Saudi Arabia next month, after the Saudi-led OPEC+ alliance decided that it would increase production. Other countries, including the United States, have also released oil from strategic reserves. This helps but doesn't make a difference.
Many countries have fuel price caps. Hungary is one of them. The discount does not apply to foreign plates. The German government reduced taxes by 35 Eurocents per liter for gasoline and 17 Cents for diesel. However, prices quickly rose again.
Germany has also introduced a 9-euro monthly discount for public transport, which resulted in crowded stations and trains during a recent holiday weekend. The program is only valid for three months, and it's not useful to those living in rural areas if there are no nearby stations.
According to Germany's gas station association, people pump as much gas now as before the pandemic.
Herbert Rabl, a spokesperson for the group, stated that people are filling up as much as they did before aEUR.
Is there any relief? Much depends on how the war with Ukraine impacts global oil markets. Analysts believe that some Russian oil will be lost to the markets as Russia's largest and most important customer, the European Union, is pledging to stop buying from Moscow in six months.
India and China continue to buy more Russian oil. Europe will need to source its oil from other countries, like the Middle East exporters. But OPEC+ (which includes Russia) has not been able to meet its production targets.
Many people see spending money on night outs and in Europe on extended summer vacations as a form of religion.
Isabelle Bruno, a teacher from Paris' suburbs, now uses the bus to get to the station, instead of driving the 10-minute distance.
She said that her husband and she are worried about the holidays as they used to drive their car a lot while visiting family in southern France. "We will pay more attention to trains and only use our car for short trips.
Leo Theus is a San Francisco Bay Area graphic designer who must be strategic in budgeting gas. He might not fill up the tank with enough fuel. California's gas prices are some of the most expensive in the United States, with some areas reaching as high as $7 per gallon.
Going to a bar or club after work is a decision that must be made. Theus stated.