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'Boycott the Pumps' Campaign Falters Despite Soaring British Gas PricesAired August 1, 2000 - 2:46 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: If you think the cost of gasoline is high here in the United States this summer, wait till you see what folks in Great Britain are paying for a gallon. Today, one group called for a nationwide revolt.
But as Amanda Kibel reports from London, the boycott never got off the ground.
AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a day for British motorists to stay away from gas stations in protest, but it didn't quite work out that way. Instead, of the empty petrol stations Boycott the Pumps campaigners were hoping for, this is how many British motorists chose to deal with the high cost of fuel here.
The price of gas in Britain is higher than anywhere else in Europe and anywhere else in the world. On average, Britons pay about $6 per gallon of fuel. This compared to the U.S. national average of around $1.80 per gallon. And more than 75 percent of British fuel costs go to the tax man.
The organizers of the Boycott the Pumps campaign, launched on a Web site earlier this year, say high petrol prices are bad politics.
GARRY RUSSELL, "DUMP THE PUMPS" CAMPAIGN: The general motorist in this country has also voting power. And next year, the government's going to be looking for votes and looking for votes from a lot of those motorists. And at the moment, those motorist are pretty angry.
KIBEL: But not angry enough, it seems, to stay away from the pumps for the day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't get around without my car. I know prices are very high, but I've got to drive it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm on my honeymoon at the moment and I've got to drive up to Manchester.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to go out and I didn't have any petrol, but, yes, I think it's a good idea. I think it's time they did do something about the price of petrol.
KIBEL: The British government doesn't agree.
LORD WHITTY, BRITISH TRANSPORT MINISTER: In this country, we have decided deliberately that we will shift the burden of taxation away from things like employment and income and profit and onto things which do you harm like pollution.
KIBEL: Environmentalists say the cost of the damage to the environment from pollution and greenhouse gases is far higher than the cost to the consumers' pocket.
TONY BOSWORTH, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: It's absolutely essential that the British government keeps petrol taxes high in order to try to reach its greenhouse gas cut targets. Well, Britain is leading the world in trying to cut greenhouse gas emissions and that's to be praised.
KIBEL (on camera): The first round of this campaign may not have had the impact its organizers were hoping for, but they say this is just the start. Campaigners are calling for a boycott on the first Monday of every month and they say this may last all the way to next year's general election.
Amanda Kibel, CNN, London.
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