French President backs off controversial green fuel tax

World Today

France is suspending a controversial fuel tax after days of violent protests.

At least four people died, 600 were injured and hundreds were arrested.

French President Emannuel Macron said the measures were necessary to combat climate change.

But for now they are on hold.

CGTN’s Oliver Whitfield Miocic reports.

France’s most violet protests in decades have forced the government to back down.

Yellow vest demonstrators, angry at the rising cost of fuel, have taken to the streets since mid-November. Now Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said he wants things to calm down.

“After nearly all of the parties that I spoke with during the consultations that I held these last few days made these demands, I am suspending these tax measures for six months,” said Edouard Philippe the French Prime Minister.

Edouard Philippe’s announcement is a major u-turn, a climb-down from what President Emmanuel Macron said only last week.

“I will not give in to those who seek destruction and disorder,” said Emmanuel Macron the French President.

But something had to give after the most recent protests on Saturday.

The Mayor of Paris said $4.5 million of damage may have been caused to city infrastructure. More than 200 petrol stations have run out of fuel due to yellow vest blockades at oil refineries.

The hotel trade union said reservations have fallen by 40 percent in Paris with the violence putting people off.

Tourism officials deny footfall has been that badly affected, but they are worried about the future.

“The number of requests on ‘is it safe to travel in Paris’ has increased in the past few days on Google. So we are looking to publish content on our website, the City Hall, to inform people there is no specific risk and it’s safe to come to Paris right now like many other day,” said Jean-Francois Martins the Deputy Mayor of Tourism.

There are still a number of yellow vest roadblocks around France. What started off as a protest against fuel tax has morphed into anger at the general cost of living.

“I don’t think it’s sufficient, and I think the government should take a step back and put more on the table,” said Loic Hennequin a yellow vest protester.

The yellow vest movement has no OFFICIAL leadership so it’s hard to know what concessions will satisfy the diverse group of opinions.

With more protests called for this weekend, the government will be waiting anxiously to see if has offered enough.