2013-02-03. Rise in Oil Tax Forces Greeks to Face Cold as Ancients Did.

posted Feb 7, 2013, 10:41 AM by Lisa Ou
| Suzanne Daley, New York Times. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9. Excerpt: ...In the fall, the Greek government raised the taxes on heating oil by 450 percent. Overnight, the price of heating a small apartment for the winter shot up to about $1,900 from $1,300. ...In raising the taxes, government officials hoped not just to increase revenue but also to equalize taxes on heating oil and diesel, to cut down on the illegal practice of selling cheaper heating oil as diesel fuel. ... Many Greeks, like Ms. Pantelemidou, are simply not buying any heating oil this year. Sales in the last quarter of 2012 plunged 70 percent from a year earlier, according to official figures. So while the government has collected more than $63 million in new tax revenue, it appears to have lost far more — about $190 million, according to an association of Greek oil suppliers — in revenue from sales taxes on the oil. Meanwhile, many Greeks are suffering from the cold. In one recent survey by Epaminondas Panas, who leads the statistics department at the Athens University of Economics and Business, nearly 80 percent of respondents in northern Greece said they could not afford to heat their homes properly. The return to wood burning is also taking a toll on the environment. Illegal logging in national parks is on the rise, and there are reports of late-night thefts of trees and limbs from city parks in Athens, including the disappearance of the olive tree planted where Plato is said to have gone to study in the shade. At the same time, the smoke from the burning of wood — and often just about anything else that will catch fire — has caused spikes in air pollution that worry health officials. On some nights, the smog is clearly visible above Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, and in Athens, where particulate matter has been measured at three times the normal levels. ...Elias Bekkas, who provides oil to 65 buildings around the city, said that many of his clients had not ordered any oil, and that some who had could not pay the bill. Last winter, he said, his company sold a little more than a million gallons. This season, it has sold only about 65,000 gallons, and he doubted the total would get to 225,000.... See full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/world/europe/oil-tax-forces-greeks-to-fight-winter-with-fire.html?_r=0