“Yellow Vests” no excuse to curb climate battle

Wednesday 12th December 2018 02:52 EST

KATOWICE: Speaking at the UN climate talks on Monday, France said it fears certain countries will exploit its “yellow vest” protests to curb their ambitions in the fight against global warming. Brune Poirson, French Secretary of State for Ecological Transition said, “It would be dangerous to blame the environment for this entire crisis. It's a broader political, economic and social problem.” Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the UN climate talks held in Katowice, Poland, she said she was notably there to “help countries decode” the situation in France.

“The 'yellow vest' movement is much broader and goes way beyond the single issue of ecological transition, so I believe one should not conflate things. The risk is that other countries... will use what happened in France and reduce it to a question of ecological transition and a poorly received carbon tax in order to also curb their ambitions regarding the climate,” Poirson said. She conceded the need to figute out a way to transition to clean energy “in the fairest way possible”, adding that the “end goal remains the same, namely to get over our oil dependence and speed up the ecological transition.”

Officials from across 200 countries are currently meeting in Katowice to try to revive all promises made in the 2015 Paris climate accord. The Paris deal saw nations agree to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and under 1.5C if possible. The ongoing 'yellow vests' movement began in France last month in protest against anti-pollution fuel tax hikes. The demonstrations have now snowballed, leading to calls to topple French President Emmanuel Macron who is accused of favouring the rich.

Last week, US President Donald Trump had posted two tweets referring to the anti-government protests that sparked rioting in Paris. “Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it's time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes?” he tweeted. He had earlier posted, “The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting 'We Want Trump!' Love France.” Trump retweeted one of several posts falsely claiming that French protesters were chanting his name.

The French government responded to the tweets, urging the President to not interfere in French politics. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “We do not take domestic American politics into account and we want that to be reciprocated. I say this to Donald Trump and the French president says it too: leave our nation be.”

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