French anti-carbon-tax revolt escalates as truck drivers join protests climate depot electricity deregulation choices and challenges


The revolt against President Macron’s environmental taxes escalated today as protesters tried to block fuel depots around France. Lorry drivers joined the protest movement today as ministers struggled to restore order with at least 35 motorways partially or completely blocked, along with at least 18 motorway sliproads. The revolt was sparked by Mr Macron’s pledge to continue to increase tax on fuel to cut pollution levels. That has since developed into a general rebellion against the rising fiscal burden on French households. — The Times, 19 November 2018

President Macron’s fuel tax rises caused chaos across France. gas efficient cars under 10000 The “yellow vest” demonstrators — named after the hi-vis jackets they have adopted as their emblem — promised to continue the disruption over the coming days and weeks. Their warning raised the pressure on Mr Macron, who has swatted aside unions opposed to his reforms but is struggling to contain the rebellion that has crippled French highways. He has been criticised for failing to foresee that his efforts to counter President Trump by putting the environment at the heart of his agenda would so exacerbate anger in provincial France. — The Times, 19 November 2018

According to the IEA, France is sitting on 80% of Europe’s frackable gas – enough to keep the country self-sufficient in energy for centuries. But the Macron government has just banned, not only fracking, but any extraction of any fossil fuels whatsoever on mainland France. It’s as if Marie Antoinette said: “Let them eat cake,” and then banned cake-making in France on the grounds that it was bad for the figure. — Geoff Chambers, Climate Scepticism, 17 November 2018

Electricity prices could double after the government suspended the UK’s system for ensuring there is a back-up power supply, experts have warned. The wholesale power price could hit £121 per megawatt hour (MWh) by next winter unless the so-called capacity market is reinstated, according to a report — risking higher energy bills for millions. The government suspended the capacity market on Thursday after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found it breached state-aid rules. — The Sunday Times, 18 November 2018

Zhores A. Medvedev, the Soviet biologist, writer and dissident who was declared insane, confined to a mental institution and stripped of his citizenship in the 1970s after attacking a Stalinist pseudoscience, died on Thursday at his home in London, where he had lived for decades. He had turned 93 the day before. gas vs diesel mpg With Roy Medvedev, the physicist Andrei D. Sakharov, the author Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn and others, Dr. Medvedev was a central figure in the seething intellectual dissidence that exposed, largely through underground literature known as samizdat , the repression of ideas, science and human rights in the Soviet Union. — The New York Times, 16 November 2018

The protesters’ chief complaint: the rising cost of diesel fuel. que gases componen el aire The recent price hike is a direct result of President Emmanuel Macron’s commitment to curbing climate change, which included higher carbon taxes for 2018, the first full year of his term. But beyond the diesel issue, many turned out Saturday to voice any number of other frustrations with the “president for the rich,” who is seen as increasingly removed from ordinary people’s concerns.

Diesel, a fossil fuel, is known for the pollutants it emits into the air. Although it was traditionally taxed at the same rate as gasoline, that is no longer the case: Taxes on diesel have risen 6.2 percent per liter this year, as part of the government’s efforts to protect clean air. The problem is, diesel remains the most common fuel in France, leading many to view recent policies as an attack on working people more than an environmental safeguard.

Her view of the government is not a fringe opinion. According to a poll published Friday by the Odoxa agency for France’s Le Figaro newspaper — albeit with only 1,000 respondents — as many as 3 in 4 French people agree. Whatever the actual figure, Macron’s opponents, particularly on France’s political extremes, have sought to capitalize on the sentiment, using the yellow-vest movement to cast the president as an out-of-touch elitist.

Somewhere between a half a million and a million came out on the streets to demonstrate against Macron’s last reform, and the one before that, and the one before that. But that was the unions and the left wing parties, so no-one took any notice. 66 gas station This is different because it’s the people – spontaneously, unorganised – and some tens or hundreds of thousands are out today, not marching in an orderly fashion through the avenues of Paris, but blocking the roads and autoroutes in over 1500 different demonstrations.

Four weeks ago people started complaining on Facebook at this latest rise in the cost of living, and suggested a protest, with the fluorescent jackets we’re obliged by law to carry in our cars as the identifying badge. So the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Jackets) were born, and in a few weeks they’ve come from nothing to being the biggest threat to Macron in the 18 rocky months of his presidency.

But the government is not giving way. They’ve already lost one minister of the environment and can’t afford to lose another, since, in the bizarre cabinet that Macron built, the environment minister is the most important minister after the Prime Minister, responsible for energy and transport, as well as for protecting the country from fire, floods, and climate change. And so the gradually rising taxe sur le carbone must stay, especially on diesel, which has been subsidised for years in France.

As a sop to public opinion, and in a desperate effort to weaken support for the Gilets Jaunes, the government has announced some measures to soften the blow, such as a prime de conversion of 4000 euros to buy a new, less polluting vehicle, for those of a revenu modeste, that is, who have an annual income rather less than the price of an electric car even after the prime. electricity and magnetism study guide The existing prime de conversion of 1000 euros has already had a huge success, with 200,000 people using it to turn in their old motor for a more recent one. Except that 60% of the newer vehicles purchased were second hand, 47% were diesel, and only 5% electric or hybrid.

For years the French subsidised diesel on the grounds that it was better for the balance of payments, producing more kilometres per litre in a country with no native energy source, and Renault and Peugeot became experts in producing diesel-fuelled cars. Then they discovered that it didn’t just smell foul and turn your Kleenex grey but was actually bad for you. So the tax on diesel is rising to align the price with that of petrol.

Oh, and after years of providing tax breaks for installing new oil-fired central heating to cut down on smog from wood burning stoves, they’ve now announced that in ten years they’re going to ban oil-fired central heating, which is used largely by people in rural areas who don’t have mains gas. Not that mains gas would be much use to them, since the tax on gas is rising even faster than the tax on petrol. (Sorry to U.S. readers for any confusion.)

According to the IEA, France is sitting on 80% of Europe’s frackable gas – enough to keep the country self-sufficient in energy for centuries. But the Macron government has just banned, not only fracking, but any extraction of any fossil fuels whatsoever on mainland France. It’s as if Marie Antoinette said: “Let them eat cake,” and then banned cake-making in France on the grounds that it was bad for the figure.

The middle classes (in U.S. and French usage – “working class” in English) are hopping mad with Macron. But, as the government loves to point out, they are in favour of the energy transition which Macron is determined to implement. The French don’t like nuclear, which currently provides two thirds of the country’s electricity, but they do like their peasants, whose intensive production of European-Union-subsidised pigs and sugar beet relies on vast amounts of diesel fuel. ideal gas kinetic energy They like the idea of renewable energy, but they hate the wind turbines which now disfigure every skyline here in Southern France, and the solar panels which are naturally installed on the cheapest land, which is also in the most natural, unusable, picturesque spots on isolated mountainsides inhabited by threatened species.

Under the mechanism, which had originally been cleared by the European Commission, power stations are subsidised to be on standby to provide extra electricity for the UK’s main network immediately, if needed. Some businesses are also paid to be ready to reduce their energy use when needed. However, payments and auctions have now been suspended while the government tries to find a way to re-establish the scheme.