Paris Riots over 25 Cent Fuel Tax: Will Fuel Taxes Save the World?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Can taxes on fossil fuels save the world?

In a recent Forbes article entitled: "Paris Is Burning Over Climate Change Taxes -- Is America Next?" Chuck DeVore, Vice President of National Initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a former California Assemblyman and Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Retired Reserve commented on the riots currently engulfing France.

He makes the point that people in France can barely tolerate a 25 cent increase per gallon of gas when the United Nations special climate report calls for in 12 years 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.

What is equally as interesting is that he goes on to point out that:

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.

Now the point is also keenly made that:

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.

What DeVore describes in France is a squeezed middle class suffering from a lack of economic freedom. He presumes that a similar outcry will come in the U.S. where a growing middle class is struggling under the burden of an increasingly more expensive social welfare program subsidizing almost half of Americans who don't work.

He goes on to state that:

Those who see climate change as a dire and urgent threat have some work to do to convince voters in the Western democracies to give up their way of life in exchange for unspecified benefits of a slightly less warm world—and that’s assuming China, India and over a billion people in Africa can be convinced not to try to pull themselves out of poverty—something that may only be done with greater use of fossil fuels.

He goes on to stress that the climate change push is sponsored by those who would:

presume to tell the rest of us how to live, where to live, and how to work—all of the good of the planet, of course—is the alarmist study, making copious use of lies of omission and commission.

The struggle with this issue is to truly understand what is true and not. We do know that the planet is warming and that the poles are melting at a rate we've not seen before. We also know that we are causing mass extinctions due to deforestation and the killing of animals and their food sources. Finally, it is clear that rising temperatures on land and in the oceans will fundamentally change the planet. The question remains, what should we do to change our state? Can we rely on taxation to change behavior and bring about a better future?

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. How do you feel about global warming?

Q2. What additional evidence would you like to see to prove taxing fossil fuels is the answer?

Q3. What do you think about DeVore's points?