by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The City of Lights, Paris, has been illuminated in recent days by cars set alight by thousands of protesting “Yellow Vests”—largely middle class people who earn their living by driving or who commute to get to work. The cause of their ire is a scheduled 25 cents-per-gallon increase in gas taxes, and about 10 cents on diesel, to fight climate change.
French President Macron, deeply unpopular, just reversed course on the new green tax—Parisians are already paying about $7.06 per gallon for gasoline, almost half of that in taxes.
If Paris streets burned over a proposed 25 cents per gallon climate change tax, imagine the global conflagration over a $49 per gallon tax.
That’s what a United Nations special climate report calls for in 12 years, with a carbon tax of $5,500 per ton—equal to $49 per gallon of gasoline or diesel. That’s about 100 times today’s average state and federal motor fuels tax.
By 2100, the U.N. estimates that a carbon tax of $27,000 per ton is needed—$240 per gallon—to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Of course, that isn’t going to happen. The economic wreckage of such a punitive tax would plunge the global economy into a permanent depression—and that’s assuming politicians could enact such huge tax increases over the will of their voters.
Keep in mind that the unrest in France was triggered by a looming 25-cent hike, which is a little less than 10% more in taxes than French drivers already pay. To meet the $49 per gallon tax hike recommended by the U.N., fuel taxes in France would have to go up 17-fold.