A discount that favors the rich? Bruno Le Maire declared on Saturday 23 July that in favor of state financing of a fuel price reduction of 30 centimes as part of the Amendment of the Finance Act. but the fairness of this rebate to fight inflation is debated. Point of contention: the consumption habits of the wealthiest households, for which the fuel price decline begins “Enjoy a little more because they drive more, mostly in bigger cars”in the words of Eric Woerth, MP for the majority, on LCI.
On Twitter, the Réseau Action Climat association pulled out its calculator to quantify this additional consumption: “In France, the richest 10% use ten times more fuel than the poorest 10%.” But is the environmental NGO telling the truth or “fake”?
In France, the richest 10% use ten times more fuel than the poorest 10%.
A gift to those super consumers who are generally less reliant on thermal cars for their travels. You don’t need this help.
— Climate Protection Network (@RACFrance) July 21, 2022
“The richest use up to 10 times more fuel, especially because they have heavier vehicles, more SUVs that are more expensive to buy, but also because they are less careful compared to the price of fuel.”, justifies Pierre Leflaive, transport manager at Réseau Action Climat, interviewed by franceinfo. Vice versa, “There is a whole section of the population who are already sober, not necessarily for ecological reasons but for economic reasons, adds the activist. For them, the fuel price explosion can lead to additional costs of up to 100 euros per month. It’s colossal.”
To support his statements, Pierre Leflaive relies on a study published on March 22nd by a Brussels NGO, Transport & Environment, which investigates this to assess the effectiveness of fuel tax cuts in Europe.
On page 17, the study presents a table showing the fuel expenditure of the first and last decile for the year 2015 by European country, calculated from Eurostat data. In France, this amount increases to 129 euros per year for the first decile (ie the 10% of the most humble households). And for the last decile (i.e. the 10% of the richest households), the annual expenditure is 1,231 euros, i.e. 10 times that. Amounts that seem unusually low, however: with 129 euros, the poorest car drivers could have filled up around 40 liters only 2.5 times a year at an average diesel price of 1.20 euros in 2015.
Another problem: the conclusions of the transport and environment report do not correspond to the statistics available in France, points out economist Marc Baudry, professor at the University of Paris Nanterre. “I can’t find that scale of 1 to 10 between wealthy households and humble households, he says franceinfo. I rely on an INSEE household consumption survey published in 2017. In this study, cited by Marc Baudry, the 10% of the poorest households spent €628 a year on fuel in 2017, compared to €1,375 for the richest at a time when a liter of diesel was selling for €1.40.
Consumption among the richest French is twice as high, as also noted Philippe Martin, member of the Council for Economic Analysis, who published a note on Thursday 21st July on the financial situation of households at the beginning of the energy crisis. “For the month of June We have 100 euros fuel spending for the poorest and 200 euros for the richest.” at a diesel price of 2.1 euros, the economist confirms to franceinfo.
In summary, the economists interviewed do not confirm the order of magnitude proposed by the Réseau Action Climat association. On the other hand, they confirm that the consumption gap between wealthy and low-income households is significant. Consequently, any reduction in the price of fuel decided by the state will be “regressive”warns the Economic Analysis Council, which means that the richest, who use more fuel, will benefit first.
How can everyone be better informed?
Take part in the consultation initiated within the framework of the European project De facto on the Make.org platform. Franceinfo is the partner