Quite simply the French government composed privileged policies to tackle climate change but they are not doing what’s best for their people. The change to renewables must be incentivised, governments must invest in the change through capital expenditure, not punish the average worker by pushing carbon taxes on people that have no choice or say in how they travel.
Similar to the water protests dividing public opinion in Ireland, the desire for a positive outcome is not enough to win over the will of the people, in particular when it comes at a significant cost to lower income households.
The yellow vest protests have no real ideology; opportunists from the left, right, and alt-right have all taken to the streets in anger, violence and anarchy. The movement has no leader and has made no demands. Common themes of insecurity towards immigration and hostility towards austerity are some of the reasons protesters took to the streets but it’s hard to tell who’s fighting for what and who will benefit in the end. Some call for lower taxes, while others call for higher wages, and some demand Macron’s head on a plate and further calls for Frexit.
Through the chaos Macron must decide if it’s time to support worker’s rights and decent wages or feed fuel to the alt-right fire through police violence. The possibility of the rise of the alt-right in France and ultimately a Frexit nightmare should be good enough reason for the government to meet with unions to put an end to this melting pot of uncertainty.
Ireland will be paying close attention to the outcome of the Paris riots, as the recent housing protest touched on some of the deep feeling festering across every sector of Irish society and the difficulties experienced in accessing accommodation. As the housing crisis deepens you can imagine it’s only a matter of time before the situation boils over.