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France’s Combustible Climate Politics

6 68 193
06.12.2018

The recent publication of the Fourth National Climate Assessment is being hailed as a potent rebuke to President Trump for his do-nothing approach to climate change. Meanwhile, another president is learning that perhaps the only thing worse than doing nothing about climate, politically speaking, is doing something about it.

Emmanuel Macron’s government was forced this week to suspend a planned 6.5-cent-per-liter tax increase on diesel and 2.9 cents on gasoline — collected for the purpose of speeding France’s transition to renewables — after weeks of protests and violent rioting throughout the country. French consumers already pay more than $6 for a gallon of gas, compared to a current national average of $2.44 in the U.S.

That’s in a country where unemployment is 9.1 percent, the median monthly disposable income is $1,930, and economic growth has lagged for decades. “To the protesters,” wrote Adam Nossiter, The Times’s correspondent in Paris, “Mr. Macron is concerned about the end of the world, while they are worried about the end of the month.”

So much then for the belief that a cabal of know-nothing pundits and greedy oil barons are the main political obstacle to climate action. President Obama rejected a gas-tax hike in 2009, when Democrats controlled Congress, but not because the Koch brothers were bending his ear. In........

© The New York Times