Will This 10-Step Plan Bring Down Gas Prices?

gas prices in Washington, D.C.

Win McNamee / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images North America

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gas prices in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images North America

How to Put the Brakes on Gas Prices

Filling up these days has given new meaning to that tired phrase, "pain at the pump." But what will it actually take to bring down gas prices for good? The International Energy Agency has unveiled a 10-point plan that it says can help the world's advanced economies, including the U.S., cut their oil demand by a staggering 2.7 million barrels a day in just the next four months. But what kind of changes would that take? Here are the IEA's suggestions — some of which would have a huge impact on your day-to-day life. 

Related: The Cost of Gas the Year You Were Born

Amtrak Southwest Chief at Lamy New Mexico

Embrace High-Speed Trains

Potential oil savings: 40,000 barrels per day

Unfortunately, this is one of those "more realistic in Europe" goals. High-speed rail, while common in Europe and Japan, has barely made a dent in the U.S. outside of Amtrak Acela in the Northeast.

Related: Spectacular Train Trips Across America and Beyond

Tesla charging at Tesla Supercharger Station at the Brea Mall

Drive More Electric Vehicles and Hybrids

Potential oil savings: 100,000 barrels per day

A slick new electric vehicle may not sound like a bad idea, but what about higher taxes on your gas guzzler? The latter should be part of a plan to increase adoption of EVs or more fuel-efficient vehicles, the IEA says. "Actions taken now to hasten the adoption of electric vehicles will have a sustained effect in the future," it says. "Similarly, new conventional vehicles sold must be fuel-efficient; fuel economy targets as well as taxes that penalise high-emissions vehicles are key for supporting further fuel economy improvements."

Related: Every Electric Truck and SUV on the Market — and More Expected Soon

Shopping center and parking lot
Marcus Lindstrom/istockphoto

Allow Driving Only on Alternate Days

Potential oil savings: 210,000 barrels per day

Sorry, but it's Tuesday — you'll need to hold off on that grocery trip until tomorrow. In major cities, the IEA recommends allowing cars with even-number plates to drive on certain days, while allowing those with odd numbers to drive on certain days. Cities around the world have experimented with similar measures since the '70s, and in the U.S., many gas stations adopted even-odd systems to cut down on lines during the 1970s energy crisis. 

Related: A Look Back at the 1970s Energy Crisis

Passenger airplane flying above clouds during sunset

Reduce Business Air Travel

Potential oil savings: 260,000 barrels per day

"I can't come on that business trip, boss. It uses too much oil." The IEA is especially critical of jet-setting business trips that involve business or first-class travel, saying "journeys of passengers in premium classes consume three times more oil than those in economy class." What does it recommend instead? Even more virtual meetings — after all, we're all pros by now. 

Related: 25 Most Luxurious First-Class Amenities


Reduce Speed Limits

Potential oil savings: 290,000 barrels per day

Ease up there, lead foot. The IEA says even a relatively modest reduction in speed limits in most countries — by 10 kilometers per hour, or roughly 6 mph — can save us big on oil. It's not without precedent: If you lived through the 1970s energy crisis, you may remember that President Richard Nixon instituted a 55 mph national speed limit in early 1974.

Related: How Road Trips Have Changed Over the Past 50 Years

Amazon Delivery Covid 19

Make Deliveries More Efficient

Potential oil savings: 320,000 barrels per day

We're guessing the IEA is not a fan of Amazon Prime, DoorDash, or all of the other quick-delivery services we've leaned so hard on during the pandemic. "Lower demand for very short delivery times can contribute to increasing the overall fuel efficiency of logistics during last-mile delivery," it notes. 

Related: If You Pay $139 for Amazon Prime, Don't Miss These Perks

Los Angeles Metro bus line 106 (Local Orange Livery) running at Downtown Los Angeles

Promote Public Transit and Bicycling

Potential oil savings: 330,000 barrels per day

Outside of major cities where public transit options are common, this is certainly easier said than done, but the IEA insists that promoting ways other than cars to get around is key. It suggests reducing or eliminating mass-transit fares, along with investing in bike lanes and electric bike and scooter programs. 

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Empty Church Sanctuary

No Cars on Sundays

Potential oil savings: 380,000 barrels per day

If your typical Sunday involves piling into the car to head to church, run errands, or visit friends and family, the IEA would like you to reconsider. And the move would have benefits far beyond saving oil, it says, including cleaner air, less noise pollution, and safer roads. Countries including Switzerland, the Netherlands, and West Germany adopted car-free Sundays during the '70s energy crisis.

Kids coming home from school
Fly View Productions/istockphoto

Increase Carpooling

Potential oil savings: 470,000 barrels per day

It might be time to get chummy with neighbors, coworkers, and maybe even strangers. The IEA is big on car sharing, including measures to promote it, like increased carpool lanes and the reduction of tolls for cars with more occupants. Right now, the U.S. has an average car occupancy rate of about 1.5 people. In Japan, the number is only 1.3. 

With the right setup you can make remote work, work
Charday Penn/istockphoto

Work From Home Even More

Potential oil savings: 500,000 barrels per day

This one's not too hateful, especially after many of us got used to working from home during COVID lockdowns. Letting those who are able continue to work from home a few days a week could translate into big oil savings, the IEA says. "Around one-third of the jobs in advanced economies can be done from home, opening up the possibility of reducing oil demand while maintaining productivity." 

Related: 15 Mistakes to Avoid When Working Remotely