Protesting carbon taxes with the Gilets Jaunes
By Craig Rucker
The Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) represent a broad cross section of French rural, working and middle classes. They are butchers, bakers and automobile makers. They are the folks who grow the food, drive the trucks, build the buildings and fix what breaks. They are France. They have had enough.
For weeks, literally millions of them have been protesting in the streets of Paris and other French cities.
A few days ago, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) used the weekend break at COP-24, the UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, to do some research in France. After interviewing many Gilets Jaunes and observing their demonstrations, we can report that the streets belong not to the government, nor to the police, but to the men, women and children in the yellow vests. And contrary to what you may have seen in the media, in their hearts the police are with the protestors.
In fact, the demonstrators are the friends, neighbors and families of the police arrayed against them. Except in extreme cases, the police are standing aside and leaving the Gilet Jaunes in charge.
In Marseille, hundreds of Yellow Vests advanced along the waterfront. As CFACT watched, joined, covered and photographed the march, two armored cars approached from the opposite direction.
In a scene recalling the famous standoff between a protester and tank in Tiananmen Square, a lone woman ran forward and confronted the armored cars, waving a yellow kerchief that coordinated smartly with her yellow vest. The Berliet VXB-170 twelve ton behemoths continued their advance.
The woman stood her ground. With the approaching force just feet away, she threw wide her arms and defied them. For a moment, one brave heroine slowed the power of the state to a crawl. Then a police officer in full riot gear swept her aside, and a platoon of police marched onto the scene. Undaunted, the protestors continued until the police gave way.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there. We’ve all seen images from Paris and other cities of masked hooligans in yellow vests smashing windows and setting fires. Nearly all of this violence has come from radical leftists who never miss a chance to riot and destroy.
CFACT encountered these same thugs three years ago in Paris during UN COP-21, well before anyone thought to don a yellow vest. The real Gilets Jaunes are upset that their president and the media are using the violent thugs to smear them. Average French observers know the protesters. They get it.
Will the French government succeed in smearing the earnest, nonviolent people in the yellow vests elsewhere around the world? Doubtful But just about everyone with an agenda is trying to horn in. This includes climate campaigners who are trying to claim the Gilets Jaunes as their own. They’ve posed in yellow vests for the media during carefully staged climate events. Don’t buy it for a second.
We spoke with a wide assortment of protesters and asked them point blank, What do you think about climate taxes? “They are BULL SHIT” is among the more genteel exclamations our question engendered. Here are the straight facts.
To repeat, the Gilets Jaunes represent a broad cross section of the French working and middle classes. They are butchers, bakers and automobile makers. They are the folks who grow the food, drive the trucks, build the buildings, police the cities, and fix what breaks. They are France. They are fed up.
The Gilets Jaunes took over a large toll station on the road to Marseilles. CFACT was there. They narrowed the lanes, but allowed traffic to pass. Toll collectors and police left them completely in charge. The protestors did not allow motorists to pay the toll. They are prepared to starve Leviathan.
France, like many European nations, has gone much further down the UN climate road than Americans have. French citizens are already feeling the pain that Californians are feeling – and that so many other Americans have waiting for them if their local, state or federal ruling classes have their way.
Climate taxes on fuel to pay for inefficient, variable wind and solar power and other climate fantasies are wasteful job killers, and the folks in the yellow vests know it. They refuse to redistribute more of what they earn through their long, hard labor … in the name of global warming.
They realize that climate taxes are regressive, and resent the elites who have the incomes to take confiscatory taxes in stride.
President Macron had vowed to suppress and outlast the protestors, showing he had no idea what was really fueling their anger and frustration. He has no friends among them – and no compassion. “We have to tax fossil fuels more in order to fund our investments in renewable energy,” he declared.
Then, as the mass protests grew, he suspended the hated climate tax for six months – then finally capitulated and changed course 180 degrees, dropping the plan altogether, at least for now.
The protesters see right through this. In Marseilles their battle cry was, “We stay on our course.”
On Saturday, December 8, over 120,000 nice, normal, fed-up French citizens again took to the streets in every corner of their country. President Macron deployed 89,000 police and 80 of those armored cars to stop them. He failed.
Meanwhile, enabled and encouraged by UN and IPCC authorities, intolerant climate activists harassed and shouted down US and CFACT delegations that were simply trying to present a bit of climate realism in Katowice. It’s time to bring that charade, and funding for it, to an end, as well.
Viva la Revolucion! And may it spread to every country.
“Dangerous manmade climate change” is not happening. Countries from Africa to Asia to Europe and beyond are building coal- and gas-fired power plants to ensure affordable, reliable power, and lift billions out of poverty – while a few nations shut down their reliable power plants and ban drilling.
Poor families and countries should not be punished with taxes and regulations imposed in misguided efforts to control Earth’s climate and weather.
Craig Rucker is president of CFACT, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, a free market think tank devoted to sound science for both people and planet.