The French government is suspending the planned tax increases on gasoline that sparked several days of violent protests on the streets of Paris.
Prime Minster Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday in a nationally televised address that the new fuel tax, which was set to go into effect on January 1, would be put on hold for six months.
“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said in his address. He said the protesters made it clear that “work must pay.”
President Emmanuel Macron announced the fuel tax hike last month as part of a plan to transition France from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in an effort to combat climate change. Angry Parisians donned the distinctive yellow traffic vests French motorists are required to carry in their cars and flooded the streets of the historic city on November 17 to protest the price hike.
The “yellow vest” protests quickly grew and evolved into demonstrations against Macron himself, denouncing him as indifferent to the problems of ordinary people. The demonstrations turned violent as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters who had built barricades and brought down traffic lights and street signs.
The clashes left the world-famous Arc de Triomphe engulfed in smoke, evoking memories of the city’s civil unrest in 1968.
Hundreds of people have been arrested across the country, with an equal number of protesters injured.