Macron ad­mits there’s a Plan B af­ter protests

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Opinion -

“There is no Plan B be­cause there is no Planet B,” Em­manuel Macron lec­tured Don­ald Trump — in English — when the Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent with­drew from the Paris cli­mate agree­ment last year. Well, ap­par­ently there is a Plan B af­ter all. Mr. Macron stopped his fuel-tax in­crease af­ter con­clud­ing that mar­ginal car­bon re­duc­tions aren’t worth kneecap­ping an econ­omy and sac­ri­fic­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. Mr. Trump could have warned him.

The French Pres­i­dent views stop­ping cli­mate change as a grand legacy pro­ject, and he had hoped to use higher fuel taxes to dis­cour­age driv­ing for the sake of slash­ing car­bon emis­sions.

It didn’t mat­ter to him that French emis­sions al­ready are very low on a per capita ba­sis and fur­ther cuts to trans­port emis­sions would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to achieve.

But this mat­ters a great deal to lower-in­come ru­ral vot­ers whose use of cars for daily life and busi­ness was about to be­come much more ex­pen­sive.

Those vot­ers pro­duced the yel­low-vest move­ment — named for the safety gear they wear — that in turn has cre­ated a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis for Mr. Macron.

What be­gan as a few hun­dred thou­sand pro­test­ers scat­tered around the coun­try be­came more than a mil­lion last week­end, in­clud­ing in­ex­cus­able ri­ot­ing mobs in Paris.

Mr. Macron’s tax back­track, which his gov­ern­ment says is only for six months, might in­duce the pro­test­ers to re­turn home.

But the move­ment grew so large and gar­nered so much pub­lic sym­pa­thy that his en­tire eco­nomic-re­form agenda is now in jeop­ardy.

The fuel tax was not part of his elec­tion cam­paign.

Mr. Trump tried to warn the French leader, al­beit in­di­rectly.

“No re­spon­si­ble leader can put the work­ers — and the peo­ple — of their coun­try at this de­bil­i­tat­ing and tremen­dous dis­ad­van­tage,” he said of the costs of the Paris cli­mate deal when he an­nounced Amer­ica’s with­drawal last year.

The point is that the pub­lic seems to un­der­stand bet­ter than pro­gres­sive elites that the con­se­quences of cli­mate change, what­ever they turn out to be, will be eas­ier to con­front the more pros­per­ous the world is.

It didn’t mat­ter to him that French emis­sions al­ready are very low on a per capita ba­sis and fur­ther cuts to trans­port emis­sions would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to achieve.

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