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Over 280,000 people took to the roads and streets in France this weekend to protest higher prices at the pump caused by a higher taxes on fuels that are part of Emmanuel Macron’s government’s plan to fight the effects of climate change.
According to a Reuters report on the events, the regular French drivers don’t seem as concerned with climate change as the government: a poll conducted this weekend found that people in France preferred that the government focus on implementing policies that would help boost household income instead of fighting climate change.
More than 400 people have been injured during the protests and one woman died in a tragic accident when a driver panicked at a road blockade and hit her. Even so, the government seems determined to stay the course.
“The path we’ve set out on is the right one and we’re going to stick to it,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a French TV channel as quoted by Reuters, noting that the overall tax burden on households would be lower at the end of Macron’s term, and the positive effect will begin to be felt as early as this year as housing taxes are cut.
Still, as the protests continue, it has become clear the government and many French don’t see eye to eye on taxes. Perhaps higher oil prices contributed to the disgruntlement that led to the protests, but given that now Brent is trading substantially lower than a month ago and the protests are n full swing suggests there may be a deeper problem.
The most popular fuel used in France is diesel and the tax reform will affect its price palpably. While the intention behind the move is noble—motivating drivers to switch from fossil fuels to EVs and other alternatives—the execution was never likely to spark enthusiasm as it hits people’s pockets directly.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.