The Green New Deal Would Cause a 'Yellow Vest' Movement in the US

The Green New Deal Would Cause a 'Yellow Vest' Movement in the US
AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu

While newly-elected House Democrats call for a Green New Deal (GND) to tackle global climate change, thousands of Parisians are taking to the streets in violent protest of French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed fuel tax. Based on their demands, the so called “gilets jaunes,” are no Tea Party-like activists, but their response to elitist climate policies may be cause for alarm for Democrats wishing to implement similar policies in the United States. House Democrats take note-- these protests have left quite the carbon footprint.

While France claims to be a leader in the fight against climate change, the nation’s citizens are revolting against the mere baseline for climate mitigation policies. French drivers currently suffer a gas tax that amounts to roughly $6.57/gallon in U.S. dollars. President Macron put his proposed gas tax increases on hold, but that’s not the point.

Eco-taxes on gasoline and carbon are devastating to working-class people worldwide, and their cries for help are falling on deaf ears among out-of-touch environmentalist policymakers. Carbon taxes proposed in the GND, which are similar in principle and impact to President Macron’s gas tax, are a major component of such climate policies.

While a gas tax is levied upon units of fuel sold, a carbon tax is levied upon units of carbon dioxide emitted. Both make the price of energy more expensive, which increases the cost of manufacturing, shipping, and transportation for businesses.

Companies offset these costs by passing them onto the consumer in the form of price increases.

According to the full language of the GND, “A carbon tax is the most efficient means to instill crucial price signals that spur carbon-reducing investment.” This, of course, is a socialist’s way of saying carbon must be taxed out of existence.

Here’s the problem: People all over the world rely on carbon-emitting fuels to power their homes and vehicles. Increased production of natural gas is key to lowering emissions, but the Obama Administration, along with Kremlin funded anti-fracking groups, tried in vain to kill the industry. Despite what GND supporters claim, there is no realistic scenario in which the global economy could run on 100 percent renewable energy, especially if its wind and solar.

Even if current limitations on alternative energy were overcome, the tax increases championed by environmentalists are nowhere near levels that would actually lower global temperatures.

According to an IPCC report, a carbon tax as high as $5,500 per ton of CO2 would be necessary to lower the rate of global temperature change to the target 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. This is way beyond the $15-50 cost per ton of CO2 that “modest” carbon tax plans propose.

To add insult to ineffectiveness, these taxes would fall disproportionately on lower income households, costing as much as $325/year in higher energy prices.

Al Gore may not notice the difference in his budget, but you can bet a single mother in middle America living paycheck-to-paycheck will find it much harder to fill up her gas tank. And if a $15 per ton carbon tax sounds expensive, just imagine a $5,500 per ton carbon tax on Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Unfortunately, there is no practical endgame for radical environmentalism’s brainchild, the GND. Despite the fact that the United States leads the world in emissions reduction, after backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement, no progress is ever enough for them. Proponents of the GND want it their way, where they control the use and price of energy.

Central planners don’t take a moment to consider how their policies in practice will affect everyday citizens in the real world. The gilets jaunes protesting across France are not units in a thought experiment, they are struggling citizens who cannot afford the price hikes associated with President Macron’s proposed gas tax. Low income families in the U.S. continue to suffer under “green” policies crafted by wealthy political donors living in coastal cities.

This is the great hypocrisy of the American Left. The Democratic Party claims to represent the working class, but its radical environmental agenda is crushing everyday citizens.

House Democrats should take heed of the Paris protests and seriously weigh the economic costs of carbon taxes and other expensive climate policies. The protests of the gilets jaunes expose the collateral damage of top-down climate policies that favor wealthy elites over the average taxpayer.

Americans may not take to the streets, but they do vote with their pocketbooks. Do House Democrats seriously believe American families will re-elect officials who raise the cost of driving their kids to school?

If the birthplace of the Paris Climate Accords can’t stomach its own policies, there is no reason why Americans should be subject to the same.

It’s time to take the Green New Deal and dispose of it in the paper recycling bin, where it belongs.

Peter Vicenzi is Press Secretary for FreedomWorks, a grassroots organization committed to lower taxes, smaller government, and individual liberty.

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