Foreign correspondent Focus on French and European Politics and Culture
James McAuley Foreign correspondent Focus on French and European Politics and Culture 4 December at 19:29 PARIS – French Prime…
PARIS – French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced Tuesday that the French government would temporarily suspend the controversial carbon dioxide tax plan that triggered many weeks of violent protests around the country.
In order to help combat climate change, the government proposed a lot of new carbon taxes as a slat to come into force in January 2019 and designed to deviate consumers from diesel and other polluting fuels and to favor electric cars. But the price increases in which they represented taxes triggered a wave of social concern that has become insignificant in recent years and quickly became a full-blown crisis, and President Emmanuel Macron became the latest world leader to suffer at home to introduce green taxes.
“No treasure is worth compromising the unity of the nation,” said Philippe, when he announced the suspension.
The French Government’s announcement came as delegates from around the world gathered in Katowice, Poland, for a climate conference designed to develop guidelines for how to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Since the election, Macron has been ranked among the most passionate advocates to fight climate change with all available funds, and his government’s return will likely throw a pall over this week’s conference.
In the third part of three weeks, the protests in France – dressed in high visibility gulfs – took the streets across the country. Especially in Paris, the scenes were particularly violent, with protesters shaking at monuments, burning cars and shattered windows. The government went so far as weighing the possibility of introducing an “emergency” to alleviate the unrest.
Tuesday announcement – a six-month suspension of the proposed taxes – represented a major reversal for a government that originally stood its ground. Macron, who won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, has struggled to keep his popularity, with critics accusing him of being out of touch with the common people’s concerns.
According to a November survey, Macron’s approval requirement is as low as 26 percent.
Philippe tried mildly in his comments. He stressed that the French government was indeed well aware of the financial difficulties that many working classes and middle classists pointed out in weeks, far beyond the specific issue of coal taxes.
His reconciliation, understanding tone was marked as opposed to previous statements by the government, including a television appearance of an alternate from Macron’s party who could not name the national minimum wage when pressed by two representatives of the Yellow West Movement.
“The French who donned the Yellow Wests love their country,” Philippe said. “They want the taxes to go down and work to pay. If I have not managed to say that, we have to change something.”
Despite the violent glasses in Paris this weekend, the prime minister went so far as to say that the yellow Westerners had the right to be angry. “This anger is widespread and has been swimming for a long time, and it is often quiet of modesty or pride,” he said. “But it was expressed today. You must be deaf or blind to not see or hear it.”
Macron, a former investment bank, has long been fooled by left critics as “the rich president” largely because of a series of liberalizing market reforms that he has driven since he began to be in May 2017.
Although minor protests and railroads have followed the introduction of the previous reforms, Macron – as a political party may have absolute majority in the French parliament – always get his road with some resistance.
However, the proposed fuel charges were different and represented in the eyes of many an urban ignorance of the reality of life in rural areas relatively observed by train lines or other forms of public transport. France has more diesel-powered cars than any other country in Europe.