Carbon Tax Revolt
by Kathleen Sgamma, President on December 4, 2018 - 8:11am
The news out of France wasn’t just about stopping the carnage after weeks of violent protests and vandalism. And it wasn’t just an embarrassing cave-in by previously high-flying President Emmanuel Macron. It was a huge statement by average citizens clad in the yellow vests of blue-collar workers that access to affordable energy is crucial not just in their daily lives, but for their well-being.
The French “protest” in a way unlike any other western country. They topple governments by blocking roads, engaging in shocking acts of vandalism and violence, and generally bringing normal economic activity to a halt. In no way do I condone violent protests, and they’ve occurred over the years even when the government has tried much-needed reform that would free France’s notoriously stultified, overregulated economy.
However this gasoline tax revolt seemed even extreme by French standards. Eventually, Macron was forced to such a humiliating defeat that he hid behind Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who made the announcement reversing the gasoline tax hike and also suspending the annual rate hike for electricity. Energy taxes were the instigation and the key concession.
To me, this was another example of how average citizens fully understand the importance of affordable energy. They’re not willing to assume huge costs for the energy that not only powers their daily lives and economic sustenance, but enables them to thrive in dignity.
The costs of France’s misguided green energy policies are not commensurate with the miniscule effects on global greenhouse gas emissions, as summarized by the Wall Street Journal. Even then-Secretary of State John Kerry admitted after the Paris Climate Treaty was negotiated that the United States could end all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow and it would have no discernible impact on climate change. If there’s no real benefit in the form of solving the threat of climate change but very real harms from limiting access to energy for hundreds of millions of people, then what are these policies other than a huge exercise in virtue signaling?
This video clip of Kerry’s statement has not been observed by many, but citizens in America, France and around the world know regardless how worse off they, their grandchildren and great grandchildren would be if we did what the elites tell us to do and stopped using oil, natural gas and coal. And that’s why people are simply unwilling to pay for supposedly green policies that deliver virtually no environmental benefit but directly threaten their ability to thrive.
Common citizens just aren’t willing to disproportionately bear the costs of climate change policies that merely enable virtue signaling by elites and politicians that can afford high energy prices. Not liberal Washington state voters who soundly defeated a carbon tax nor violent French “yellow-vest” protesters nor even uber-polite Canadians backtracking on a carbon tax are willing to sacrifice access to affordable energy to engage in climate change virtue signaling.
I’m proud to be in an industry that continues to provide the affordable, reliable energy that enables the healthy, safe and prosperous lives the vast majority of citizens in the West enjoy at nearly every socioeconomic level. We continue to expand energy access to more and more people across the globe, even at our own detriment in the form of low commodity prices. We’re the number one reason the United States has reduced more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country.