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French Tax on Gas and Diesel Triggers Enormous Protests

You may have missed it in the shuffle of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, but more than 280,000 protesters throughout France took to the streets the weekend of November 17th to voice their frustration with the rising cost of energy thanks to French President Emmanuel Macron’s deeply unpopular tax on diesel fuel, the most popular fuel in France, and gasoline.

The violent protests (is there ever any other kind of protest in France?) that started last weekend are still raging. French police fired tear gas and used water cannons on Saturday, November 24th to disperse thousands of protesters in Paris, according to Politico.

Diesel prices in France have skyrocketed more than 23 percent over the last 12 months and French motorists already spend more than $7.00 per gallon, USD. Despite these enormous costs, French President Emmanuel Macron has stated the rising gas taxes are needed to reduce France’s dependence on fossil fuels and fund renewable energy investment.

The new taxes would raise the cost of diesel fuel by nearly 30 cents per gallon, and will continue to climb in the coming years.

Polling shows the protesters enjoy broad support among the French public, with nearly three-quarters of respondents to an Elabe institute poll backing the the protesters. Seventy percent of respondents wanted the government to reverse the fuel tax hikes.

Rising fuel prices have exacted a political toll on Macron, who has seen his popularity slip to a new low. An opinion poll released last Friday found a mere 26 percent of French people had a favorable opinion of Macron.

While the general public may seemingly support policies to combat carbon dioxide emissions in the abstract, they almost always oppose them when they are presented as concrete policies with real costs.

Gas taxes are set to increase in Minnesota, as well, but Governor-elect Tim Walz has thus far declined to share specific details about his proposal to raise the cost of fuel for Minnesota families.

 

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