The "yellow vests" are demonstrating in France.

The yellow vests in France come from a conflict between climate and prosperity. Photo: Patrice Calatayu (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Climate and prosperity in conflict

My first encounter with Des Gilets Jaunes ("The Yellow Vests") was when I was studying in Paris in November, at the same time as the demonstrations began. Molly Jerlström writes about the reason for the demonstrations in her column "Backlash for environmental reforms in France ”. Jerlström writes that the demonstrations were caused by a conflict "between an environmentally friendly policy and people's economic and social prosperity" due to a decision on a higher tax on oil and diesel.

When I walked the streets of Paris and was met by closed bridges, the stationary metro and all the chaos and violence the demonstrations created, I was scared. Because I understood that more conflicts like this will arise, then more measures need to be taken in favor of the climate. Des Gilets Jaune's demonstrations are just one example of what can happen.

What is happening in Paris has made me reflect on what the French Government, and future governments facing the same problem, can do to prevent and resolve the situation. Because in all conflicts like this, it is difficult to find a concrete solution that is both long-term for the environment and that does not make citizens feel unfairly treated. We do not have much time to learn how to solve situations like these. We need to learn quickly, do everything we can to prevent conflicts from arising, and do everything we can to resolve them peacefully. At the same time, we must take drastic solutions for the climate. To see with my own eyes how much anger can be created by a decision for our environment, has at least made me understand that it is very important that we take conflicts like this seriously.

This is a chronicle. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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