Une Manifestation

On Saturday, while trying to get on the A41 on my way to a seminar in Geneva, I ran into this:

One protester has died and more than 200 were injured as more than a quarter of a million people took to the streets of France, angry at rising fuel prices.

The female protester who died was struck after a driver surrounded by demonstrators panicked and accelerated.

The “yellow vests”, so-called after the high-visibility jackets they are required to carry in their cars, blocked motorways and roundabouts.

They accuse President Emmanuel Macron of abandoning “the little people”.

I was pretty annoyed, especially when one of them told me I had to move my car to the side of the road to let the bus behind me past, which was carrying children. I was tempted to suggest that, if kids languishing in buses are a concern, maybe they shouldn’t be blocking the f*cking road. They then handed me this:

The protesters were mostly aged between forty and fifty, rather too old to be subscribing to anarcho-communist ideologies which have no chance of success at the ballot box. But when I got home and read the BBC article, I thought they may have had a point:

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s, AFP news agency reports.

World oil prices did rise before falling back again but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol, as part of a campaign for cleaner cars and fuel.

The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol on 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw.

Diesel has always been cheaper than petrol in France, in part because French companies were early pioneers in diesel engine technology and the refineries were geared to meet the subsequent demand. But a decade or so back politicians across Europe decided CO2 emissions were the greatest danger mankind had ever faced and encouraged everyone to switch to diesel cars, which get a better mileage per gallon. So everyone did, only now the politicians are saying diesel is bad and have whacked up the tax, leaving millions of people facing rising fuel bills and with cars that in many cases will be near-worthless. An increase of 14.1 cents per litre in two years on a fuel the government encouraged people to adopt is extortion; no wonder people came out in protest.

Speaking on Wednesday, the president blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise. He also said more tax on fossil fuels was needed to fund renewable energy investments.

So why not just borrow the money if it’s such a great investment? After all, aren’t we forever being told that renewable energy is now so cost effective it doesn’t need subsidies? In any case, why should motorists be taxed to pay for renewable energy generation? Why not charge the customers directly?

So we have a government invoking an idiotic fad to punish people for following an earlier idiotic fad, which nobody in power has taken any responsibility for pushing. At the same time we have a blatant cash-grab in order to fund white-elephant projects which make the government look good when it struts around on the world stage with other kleptocrats. Little wonder Macron is the most detested French president in living memory.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents to a poll by the Elabe institute backed the Yellow Vests and 70% wanted the government to reverse the fuel tax hikes.

More than half of French people who voted for Mr Macron support the protests, Elabe’s Vincent Thibault told AFP.

Annoyed though I was at being delayed on Saturday morning, I’m rather glad I’m in France and people are making a noise. Most other places, the population would just eat it up.

“The expectations and discontent over spending power are fairly broad, it’s not just something that concerns rural France or the lower classes,” he said.

Indeed. How many of those supporting lunatic environmental policies live in cities, smugly tell everyone they don’t own a car, and have no idea how the country is fed and the lights kept on? Once again, the wealthy, metropolitan middle classes are making life miserable for everyone else.

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12 thoughts on “Une Manifestation

  1. This seems to be quite a good explanation of the issue.

    And this should be held up as an example of why we shouldn’t have politicians and technocrats planning our lives:

    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.

    H/T Kevin B commenting at Tim W’s blog

  2. “After all, aren’t we forever being told that renewable energy is now so cost effective it doesn’t need subsidies?”

    I have fond memories of being in an investor meeting with a Greek finance minister who proudly announced that their plan for rebuilding their economy had renewables as one of the three main pillars.

    Question: “Given renewables require subsidies that means they don’t cover the cost of capital, how will that work”

  3. Sacre bleu, there are some Frenchmen left with balls, good to see.

    Although it may be too little to late, France is another nation that has steadily being going downhill since the end of the WWII. Now they got Macron from team pink and his criminal rapist wife leading them, what a complete mess and tragedy for what was once a mighty fine and proud nation. I think Trump done him up brown when he dumped the Paris Agreement that probably wasn’t in Macrons script.

    Sucked in, diesel was always for losers, and anyone with a basic understanding of airborne pollutants, real ones I mean, would know that the volume of particulates (nasty stuff) is far higher from diesel than petrol emissions.

    Its all tax anyway nothing to do with product price.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………..

    Typically, in the EU, more than half of the fuel’s price is tax-based, all of which vary greatly from country to country.

    https://www.fuelseurope.eu/knowledge/refining-in-europe/economics-of-refining/fuel-price-breakdown/

  4. It’s great that they are out protesting tax rises, but I wonder: how many of those out protesting voted for Micron, or would be also out there squealing if the retirement age was raised or public spending reduced?

  5. Replacing « fioul » with gas means that instead of an annual oil tanker visit, you’ll have monthly deliveries of gas bottles. Doesn’t sound very green to me.

    Assuming oil-fired heating pollution follows the 80:20 rule, they should identify the worst polluters first. There are probably specific makes & models of boiler which emit the most pollutants. Identify them and scrap them first.

  6. I wonder if Brexit might not end up with some significant ‘hi-viz jacket’ demos of our own. That’d be a laugh.

  7. 80% of French electricity comes from nuclear with around another 10% from geothermal and hydro, (France is a net exporter of electricity) so there is no need for ‘renewables’ in France for any reason other than political.

    The majority of the French population lives in rural areas ill-served by public transport, so cars are a necessity. France has no national gas-grid like the UK, and many homes rely on oil for central heating and bottled gas for cooking. These also have the carbon tax on them. Many farms need heating oil or LPG to keep farm buildings warm and of course for farm vehiclees.

    The effect of the carbon tax adversely and disproportionately effects the rural population compared to those living in towns and cities and government residences and on government salaries.

    France is of course bankrupt, has a huge budget deficit, National debt, over-reliance on cash from the EU. Plastic Macron has promised tax cuts and reductions in social security rates, so the money to cover this has to come from somewhere, and the global warming fiction is suitable camouflage for giving with one hand and taking with the other.

    When I came to France circa 2002, diesel was around 76cents a litre and there was a differential of around 30cents between it and petrol. That differential has been eroded in recent years, and nothing to do with World oil prices, and everything to do with getting more tax from it.

  8. Frances economic situation is looking pretty dire with their nationals wealth levels dropping rapidly, I would say that it will be out of the top ten within fifteen years.

  9. Sorry Maricon, coal is still where its at.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………..

    Global Coal Demand Increased In 2017

    Even with the Paris climate accords signed in late-2015, global coal demand in 2017 rose for the first time in two years, as reported by the Paris-based International Energy Agency during its annual World Energy Outlook release week.

    We energy-saturated Westerners, of course, have a hard time understanding this. We should know, however, that any anti-coal policy that we impose is not that significant. The coal action is “over there.” Per BP, China consumes over 50% of the world’s coal, with India using about 12%. In contrast, the U.S. consumes 9% of the world’s coal with Europe at 8%.

    In fact, coal is the cornerstone of urbanization, increasingly important since the world’s cities are expanding by 75 million humans per year

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2018/11/15/global-coal-demand-increased-in-2017/#364ecf00661c

  10. Lets hope they kick off with 1789 x2.

    A YUUGE crowd burst in on the little bastard and drag him out punching and kicking the shite out of him as they go. I don’t think they have a working guillotine left do they? Well an old-fashioned (hopefully badly botched and several tries repeated) axe will do.

  11. We may have just seen the start of the Mad Made Global Warming War in Paris yesterday.

    You are either all for them taking us back to the stoneage or against it. What better a setting than the City of Lights which has also lended its name to the notorious Paris Agreement, for the people to rise and say enough.

    Why should the French or anyone else for that matter be unnecessarily forced down the road of high taxes, expensive energy which affects everything and further serfdom, just because some elitist group think that it is what is best for them?

    I think Maricon will be feeling a little bit uneasy at the moment. This was definitely not what he signed up for.

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