Friday, December 7, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: French Carbon Tax Revolt Scores Historic Victory

French Government Announces U-Turn Of Carbon Tax

In this newsletter:

1) Carbon Tax Revolt Scores Historic Victory As French Govt Suspends Tax Hike
EurActiv, 4 December 2018 

2) Macron And Philippe Suspend Carbon Tax Hike 
Le Figaro, 4 December 2018

3) Macron Caves In As French PM Announces U-Turn Of Carbon Tax Hikes To End Violent 'Yellow Vest' Protests
The Daily Telegraph, 4 December 2018 

4) Carbon Tax Moratorium: "This Is Just A First Step "
France Inter, 4 December 2018 

5) The Global Carbon Tax Revolt
The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, 4 December 2018
6) UN Should Sober Up — There Is No Consensus On The Threat Of Climate Catastrophe
Editorial, The Manila Times, 3 December 2018

Full details:

1) Macron Caves: Carbon Tax Revolt Scores Historic Victory As French Govt Suspends Tax Hike
EurActiv, 4 December 2018

French government prepared to back down on carbon tax

After the recent riots in France at the margins of the ‘yellow vests’ movement, the carbon tax adopted under François Hollande is expected to be revised downwards. EURACTIV France reports.

Having been expected to attend COP24 in Poland on Monday 3 (December), French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe cancelled his visit and instead held an increasing number of meetings with French MPs and ministers.

This resulted in a decision to back down on the French carbon tax, which has been criticised by the ‘yellow vests’ since the movement started a month ago.

It seems that the increasing tension, demonstrations and violence, and particularly the support of the French population for the ‘yellow vests’ movement – which is still strong – are the reasons for this U-turn, which will take the form of a freeze on the tax increase scheduled for January 2019.

The tax was supposed to increase from €55 to €88 per tonne of CO2 emitted on this date.

The many exceptions to the  French carbon tax do not make it easier for people – and drivers – to accept green taxation, EURACTIV France reports.

Given the social and economic cost of the ‘yellow vests’ movement, the carbon tax appears to be a small price to pay for the French executive.

Between the damage caused and the loss of earnings due to the blocked refineries, or the storming of town centres on Saturday (1 December), just as French people were doing their Christmas shopping, provisionally abandoning the carbon tax now seems to be an acceptable concession. The tax represents €5 billion a year for the French state in 2018 and was expected to rise in 2019.

The carbon tax was the most symbolic of the disordered demands by the ‘yellow vests’. However, attacks on other taxes and the idea of installing a member of the military as the head of state have also spread in recent days, along with an incredible amount of false information. This ranged from the French Constitution supposedly being invalid to photos being used out of context.

Moreover, the extreme violence to which the police was subjected, with more than one hundred burnt cars, multiple fires and more than 200 people injured, prompted the interior minister “to not maintain the demonstration” on climate change scheduled for 8 December.

Planned since September, after the first spontaneous climate march, the demonstration was supposed to take place in the middle of COP24.

2) Macron And Philippe Suspend Carbon Tax Hike 
Le Figaro, 4 December 2018

The increase in the carbon tax on fuels will be suspended for six months while the rise of electricity and gas tariffs is suspended "during the winter," the [French] Prime Minister announced on Tuesday morning, three days after protests by the "yellow vests were disrupted by violence.

"No tax deserves to endanger the unity of the Nation".

Nearly three weeks after the first day of national protests by the "yellow vests", and three days after serious violence in Paris and the region, the Prime Minister announced new measures on television in an effort to appease the public and restore "social peace."

The increase of the carbon tax on gasoline, fuel oil and diesel was scheduled for 1 January. The Prime Minister has now "suspended the increase for six months," conceding to the calls for a moratorium demanded by opponents of Emmanuel Macron.

Suspension of the rise in electricity and gas rates "during the winter"

To appease the anger that now extends well beyond the single carbon tax, Édouard Philippe also announced that "electricity and gas rates will not increase during the time of the consultation". In other words, the automatically scheduled increase on January 1st of each year is suspended "during the coming winter".

According to estimates from various media, such as Le Parisien and L'Opinion in particular, the application of the regulatory formula would have led to an increase of 2.3% or even 3% to 4%. More than 25 million households are affected.

Full story (in French)

3) Macron Caves In As French PM Announces U-Turn Of Carbon Tax Hikes To End Violent 'Yellow Vest' Protests
The Daily Telegraph, 4 December 2018 

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to announce on Tuesday a suspension of fuel tax increases planned for January 1 in a move to end violent "yellow vest" protests against the measure, government sources said Tuesday.

The suspension will be accompanied by other measures aimed at calming two weeks of nationwide demonstrations by the protesters, the sources said.

The demonstrations, which degenerated into street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend, erupted last month over the fuel taxes which are financing France's anti-pollution efforts.

Originally spurred by the soaring cost of fuel this year, they quickly ballooned into a wider revolt over President Emmanuel Macron, accused of pursuing policies which hit low-income households particularly hard.

Halting the fuel tax increase was one of the main demands listed by "yellow vest" leaders, alongside a higher minimum wage and the return of a wealth tax on high-earners abolished last year.

Macron made the decision to suspend the 2019 fuel tax hikes late on Monday, the sources said, after his government spent the day meeting with leaders from all of France's political parties.

Many were pressing the president to assuage the anger after the running urban battles seen in the capital on Saturday, when dozens of cars were burned and shops attacked and looted.

Philippe will announce the fuel tax suspension later Tuesday after meeting with lawmakers in his Republic on the Move party.

Full story

4) Carbon Tax Moratorium: "This Is Just A First Step "
France Inter, 4 December 2018 

Benjamin Cauchy, a leader of the "free yellow vests", has welcomed as the government's announcement of a moratorium on the carbon tax as a first step, but said that the demands of the protest movement are much wider called for continued, peaceful protests next Saturday.

"This is only a first step. The French do not wish to have just crumbs, like sparrows at the edge of a window in the middle of winter" said Benjamin Cauchy, the co-signatory of the "free yellow vests." "We want the whole baguette," he said in response to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's announcement of a moratorium on the carbon tax which freezes the upcoming rise of fuel taxes...

Given the strong public support, Benjamin Cauchy is certain that the "yellow vests" will change the government's stance. "We are preparing for a political transition much more than an ecological transition," the activist said.

Full story (in French)

5) The Global Carbon Tax Revolt
The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, 4 December 2018

France’s violent Yellow Vest protests are now about many domestic concerns, but it’s no accident that the trigger was a fuel-tax hike. Nothing reveals the disconnect between ordinary voters and an aloof political class more than carbon taxation.

The fault line runs between anti-carbon policies and economic growth, and France is a test for the political future of emissions restrictions. France already is a relatively low-carbon economy, with per-capita emissions half Germany’s as of 2014. French governments have nonetheless pursued an “ecological transition” to further squeeze carbon emissions from every corner of the French economy. The results are visible in the Paris streets.

President Emmanuel Macron and his Socialist predecessor François Hollande targeted auto emissions because they account for about 40% of France’s carbon emissions from fuel combustion compared to 21% in Germany. But this is mainly because France relies heavily on nuclear power for electricity. Power generation and heating account for only 13% of French emissions, compared to 44% across the Rhine. French road-transport emissions were a mere 0.4% of global carbon emissions in 2016, when overall French emissions were less than 1%.

Yet Paris insists on cutting more, though transport emissions are notoriously hard to reduce. Cleaner engines or affordable hybrids have been slow to emerge. Undeterred, Mr. Macron pushed ahead with a series of punitive tax hikes to discourage driving.

The protesters in Paris will be expected to pay much of the up to €8 billion annual tab for a minuscule global benefit—that’s how much tax revenue Mr. Macron thinks his levies will raise. This is preposterous in an economy that still has an 8.9% jobless rate (21.5% for the young) and will struggle to hit 2% annual GDP growth. Yellow Vests from less prosperous rural areas, who depend on cars for daily life, know it. They’re insulted when Mr. Macron tells them to wait for better public transport or to carpool—yes, he really said that. They also assume that Paris will waste a fuel-tax windfall on boondoggles such as unreliable renewable power to replace zero-emissions nuclear plants.

The carbon tax revolt is world-wide. Voters in Washington state last month rejected a carbon tax that would have started at $15 per ton of emissions and climbed $2 a year indefinitely. Washington ranks 25th among American states in carbon emissions and when we tried to estimate its contribution to global emissions our calculator couldn’t handle a number that small. Gov. Jay Inslee and green activists nonetheless wanted voters to pay $2.3 billion in taxes over five years.

Ontario province in Canada is suing to block a federal carbon tax, and the issue could topple the Alberta government and perhaps Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney warned that the federal tax grab “takes money from families’ pockets and makes job creators less competitive.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Energiewende—a transition to renewables that has increased dirty coal emissions and caused household energy costs to soar—has become a political liability.

A carbon tax is in theory a more efficient way than regulation to reduce carbon emissions. But after decades of global conferences, forests of reports, dire television documentaries, celebrity appeals, school-curriculum overhauls and media bludgeoning, voters don’t believe that climate change justifies policies that would raise their cost of living and hurt the economy.

6) UN Should Sober Up — There Is No Consensus On The Threat Of Climate Catastrophe
Editorial, The Manila Times, 3 December 2018

As things stand today, there is clearly no global consensus on a climate catastrophe, or on the way the world should tackle it. We think the UN should sober up. It is its responsibility to review its climate agenda and change the message. If by the end of the Katowice summit on December 14, there is still no consensus on a plan of action, the UN should pull the plug on its climate agenda.

The two-week UN climate summit, which opened yesterday in Katowice, Poland, is fraught with the conflicting beliefs and stands of nations on the largely UN-promoted threat of global climate catastrophe.

The conference will last for two weeks, but despite the unusual length, there is little chance that the nations will agree on the existence of the threat, or on the drastic plan of action that the UN is assiduously promoting.

Some, like the UN and many nations, are pressing forward with a policy of fear-mongering.

Other countries are totally skeptical about the doomsday prediction, and reject the global warming problem itself.

Climate alarmists have warned that the world needs to cut fossil fuel emissions by half by 2030 to avert disaster. The Poland summit seeks to firm up a plan to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Climate skeptics on the other hand totally reject the UN doomsday prediction; they dismiss the alleged need to cut back on fossil fuels and abandon CO2, which would turn the world economy upside down.

The troubles hounding the Katowice summit are a direct outcome of the extravagant promises and expectations raised by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

In Paris three years ago, countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius.

Johan Rockstrom, designated director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the talks in Katowice are crucial in nailing down how the Paris promises will work in practice.

This objective faces a formidable wall. According to Rockstorm, delegates to the COP24 “cannot and will not discuss if governments worldwide must achieve rapid greenhouse gas emission reductions to limit climate risks and on how they can do this.”

In Katowice, the nations will discuss a proposed rulebook palatable to all 183 states that ratified the Paris deal.

This is far from likely. High among the obstacles is the decision of US President Donald Trump to pull out the US from the accord.

Last Saturday, during the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, the US reiterated its decision to “withdraw” from the Paris agreement.

Brazil, under its new president Jair Bolsonaro, has signified its intent to follow the American lead and withdraw from the accord.

Many fear that the US withdrawal will have a domino effect and lead other nations to pull out from the Paris agreement.

It is emblematic of the problems hounding the UN‘s climate agenda that the summit is taking place in Katowice, Poland, a mining city, which is sometimes called ‘the coal capital’ of Europe. Coal is a prime target for execution by the UN.

Last week, the Polish government announced its plans to open a new coal mine.

Meanwhile, the UN just keeps doubling down on its forecast of climate catastrophe. Just last week, the UN Environment Program said the voluntary national contributions agreed in Paris would have to triple if the world was to cap global warming below 2C.

According to the Wall Street Journal, when the UN made its doomsday prediction, most of the world yawned.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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