France has made big strides in energy efficiency

After the global oil crises of the 1970s, both the U.S. and France took steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce their vulnerability to oil price fluctuations. Unlike the U.S., however, France stuck with them. Since 1973, U.S. oil use has risen by 16 percent, while France’s has fallen by 10 percent. France imposed a stiff gasoline tax (its citizens pay more than $5 a gallon for gas, $3.75 of it taxes), subsidized a massive shift to more fuel-efficient diesel-powered automobiles, and aggressively developed its nuclear power industry. These demand-oriented strategies stand in sharp contrast to those of the U.S., where “we try to control things over which we have no control, like Russia or Saudi Arabia, instead of looking at what we could do inside,” said Amy Jaffe of Rice University’s energy program. “We’re like drug addicts. We’re looking around for another dealer instead of going to detox.” With American oil use projected to rise by 43 percent by 2025, the U.S. might consider shedding its Francophobia and taking a few tips from the Frogs.