Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
The French government thought raising taxes on gasoline and diesel to pay for renewable energy would be welcomed by the people. It didn't turn out that way.

Carbon Pricing

Riots Erupt Over French Plan To Raise Fossil Fuel Taxes To Pay For Renewables

The French government thought raising taxes on gasoline and diesel to pay for renewable energy would be welcomed by the people. It didn’t turn out that way.

Every once in a while, some in the CleanTechnica community argue that taxes on fossil fuel should be increased dramatically in order to lower carbon emissions. It seems like a thoroughly rational thing to do. Burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide which leads inexorably to a warming planet.

The price of gasoline and diesel fuel at the pump in America is far below the cost of those fuels to society, leading to more cars and trucks burning more fuel and making more carbon dioxide. Stop the madness. Price fossil fuels fairly according to their full economic and social costs. Problem solved, right?

The argument may make some sense in America, where the price of gas and diesel have always been significantly lower than in most developed nations, but if we think the general public is going to sit still for higher fuel taxes, the latest news from France may offer a sobering counterpoint.

France last week proposed to raise taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline by an amount equivalent to 30 cents per gallon. The government thought it would use the extra revenue to support more renewable energy for the country. It actually thought the proposal would be well received by the citizenry.

It was wrong. The French people have exploded into open revolt, with rioters taking to the streets across the nation. In France, every motorist is required to have a neon yellow safety vest in the vehicle to make them visible to other motorists if they are forced to leave their car or truck in an emergency. Those vests are known as gilets jaunes in French. The protesters have adopted the vests as the symbol of their protests, which have involved a quarter of a million people so far. In Paris, police have employed tear gas and water cannons against the crowd.

Two protesters spoke with a reporter from USA Today. “It’s going to trigger a civil war and me, like most other citizens, we’re all ready,” said Benjamin Vrignaud, a 21-year-old protester from Chartres. “They take everything from us. They steal everything from us,” said 21-year-old Laura Cordonnier.

It almost sounds like the times prior to the French Revolution. President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the protests and accused ultra right wing nationalist groups of fanning the flames of protest. From the citizens’ point of view, Macron is an imperious dictator sitting in splendid isolation like Louis XIV at Versailles as his nation crumbled around him.

Reporters for The Guardian captured the mood of some of the protesters. Listen carefully and you can hear echoes of the sentiments that propelled DJT into the Oval Office. “We’re here because we’ve had enough,” said Joel Mouilleseaux, 24, a student. “It’s always the same people who have to pay for the madness of others. We have to work to pay, work some more to pay some more and it’s been like that for years. It’s been like it since I was born, president after president, and now we’re saying, that’s enough. Left, right, for me it’s the same, always the same. I want to be heard, listened to and have a response.”

Bruno Binelli, 66, a retired carpenter from Lyon, said: “I’m not in any political party. I often vote Front National, but I’m not Front National. It’s not my mentality — and besides, I’m Italian by origin — but I do it out of protest, to say things are not good, and if you continue like this we will end up electing someone from the extreme right.

“But they don’t listen to us. Macron listens to nothing. He’s suddenly concerned about ecology, but it’s a lie: it’s a pretext to make us pay more tax. We no longer know what kind of car to buy: petrol, diesel, electric, who knows? I have a little diesel van and I don’t have the money to buy a new one, especially as I’m about to retire. We have the feeling those from the countryside are forgotten.”

Those of us who think raising the gasoline tax in America might want to reconsider our position. Those who think there is unlimited support for renewable energy and carbon taxes should pay heed as well. There will be some bruising fights on the way to a sustainable world.

 
Check out our brand new E-Bike Guide. If you're curious about electric bikes, this is the best place to start your e-mobility journey!
 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Advertisement
 
Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

Comments

You May Also Like

Batteries

Andy Tang, Wärtsilä's global VP of energy storage and optimization, talks microgrids, optimizing battery safety and revenue, and flexible fuels.

Clean Power

The rich wind resources of Ireland are fostering a green hydrogen boom, with green ammonia for good measure.

Clean Power

Ukraine makes the case for joining the EU with green hydrogen and a plan for overcoming transmission bottlenecks.

Clean Power

GM Ventures is banking on a crazy looking "wall of wind turbines" to lead the charge into next-generation floating wind turbine technology.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.