Median monthly take-home pay in France is €1,700, and the €80 it can cost to fill up your tank can sting—especially if you live in a rural area where you’re reliant on a car. The government’s messaging, if anything, worsened the situation: Macron, who is seen as imperious and out of touch, has suggested that people in car-dependent areas simply carpool.
The reaction in France offers a case study of the perils of efforts to combat climate change. Historically, economists have pushed for governments to use tax policy, the idea being that only a tax can “internalize” the costs of climate change: By charging polluters for every ton of heat-trapping gas they emit into the atmosphere, a carbon tax lets the market account for climate change by itself. “Many experts agree that taxing carbon to regulate emissions is the most economically efficient approach,” Resources