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With gas prices soaring over the Ukraine war, here's a plan to cut oil consumption

A customer pumps gasoline into his car in Gulfport, Miss., on Feb. 19.
Rogelio V. Solis
A customer pumps gasoline into his car in Gulfport, Miss., on Feb. 19.

With gasoline prices soaring, the International Energy Agency says it's time to cut oil use dramatically. The energy organization has a 10-point plan to do that, suggesting a range of actions — from cutting highway speed limits to launching car-free Sundays in big cities.

Global gasoline prices have surged following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last month, with U.S. gas prices setting a new national record of more than $4 per gallon.

As the U.S. and its allies continue to levy economic sanctions on Russia, markets have been bracing for serious disruptions to crude supplies. Earlier this month, U.S. oil prices rose to as high as $130.50 per barrel, the highest since 2008.

In response, the IEA has released a list of proposed actions to ease strains and price pains for oil as the peak consumption months of July and August are rapidly approaching.

"As a result of Russia's appalling aggression against Ukraine, the world may well be facing its biggest oil supply shock in decades, with huge implications for our economies and societies," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

The United States and 30 other countries in the IEA have already moved to release 60 million barrels of oil from their reserves. "We can also take action on demand to avoid the risk of a crippling oil crunch," Birol added.

The IEA says its plan would cut oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day within four months of implementation, which it said would equal the oil demand of all the cars in China.

With a majority of oil demand coming from transportation, the plan mostly focuses on how to use less oil getting people and goods from place to place.

Some short-term measures recommended are reducing speed limits on highways by at least 10 kilometers per hour (about 6 mph), implementing car-free Sundays in cities, making public transportation cheaper and incentivizing walking and cycling.

The IEA also suggests encouraging people to work from home up to three days a week where possible.

The organization looked at air travel as another opportunity to cut down on global oil consumption, recommending that businesses avoid using air travel when alternatives exist and that individuals should consider using high-speed and night trains when possible.

It also highlights that adopting electric and more efficient vehicles will decrease oil demand into the future.

NPR has put together some other ways to help you get the most out of your tank of gas.

This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

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Jeff Dean
Jeff Dean is the 2021 Military Veterans in Journalism intern for NPR reporting for the Business Desk and Newsdesk teams.