The single most effective weapon in the fight against climate change is the tax code – imposing costs on those who emit greenhouse gases, economists say. But as French President Emmanuel Macron learned over the past three weeks, implementing such taxes can be politically explosive.
On Tuesday, France delayed for six months a plan to raise already steep taxes on diesel fuel by 24 cents a gallon and gasoline by about 12 cents a gallon. Macron argued that the taxes were needed to curb climate change by weaning motorists off petroleum products, but violent demonstrations in the streets of Paris and other French cities forced him to backtrack – at least for now.
“No tax is worth putting in danger the unity of the nation,” said Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, who was trotted out to announce the concession.