France's new centrist government (it's actually good old socialism, but we'll roll with the mainstream term here) under president Emmanuel Macron, announced its new environmental policy. As the initiator of the Paris Climate Agreement, France wants to show itself ambitious in the fight against global warming. President Trump announced a few weeks ago that the United States was withdrawing from this job-killing accord.
As a reaction, Emmanuel Macron had "slammed" Trump in statement to the press, declaring that the République was going to make "the planet great again." Hailed by the media for the punchy headline, Macron's government now feels like it has to deliver on that promise.
Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot announced on Thursday that Paris seeks to ban all cars which run on fossil fuels by 2040. The country was slightly taken aback, especially since until now, only 1.2 percent of all cars in the country of wine and cheese are electric. Later this year, the government wants to enact the first legislative package to initiate this process.
"This morning," Nicolas Hulot said in his statement, "a European car manufacturer announced that by the summer of 2019, it will only sell electric cars."
Once again, raised eyebrows was the legitimate reaction. Hulot was referring to Volvo's announcement to make all cars hybrid by 2019. There's no need to be an expert when it comes to cars, even as a minister, but the knowledge that hybrid cars also run on petrol seems fairly universal. Or maybe we should not have been too demanding from the start: Nicolas Hulot is a former TV presenter who ran a wildlife TV channel until recently. Who else should we attribute the managing of a country's transport and energy policy too, right?
A petrol ban by 2040 isn't reasonable or ambitious, it's pure socialist daydreaming. In 2040, if we are still in need of cars running on fossil fuels, the ban would be disastrous and is unlikely to be implemented, or if we don't need them anymore by that time the legislation would be obsolete. The pretense, however, that it is the role of government to choose winners and losers in the innovation of a free market, is ridiculous. It is opportune to quote the immortal Friedrich Hayek, who said:
"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."
Unfortunately, the policy of "banning all the things" was the shtick of the last administration in France — something that the current one does not seem to walk away from. Not convinced? Try typing "France bans..." into Google and see what comes out. You'll get a long list of bizarre bans, ranging from the prohibition of tanning bed advertisements to a ban on ads featuring children with Down Syndrome (because parents who aborted children could feel bad).
It's time French politicians grow up and learn that you cannot solve problems through the authoritarian arm of the legislator, but only through the innovation generated by free individuals.
Bill Wirtz is a political commentator currently based in France. Originally from Luxembourg, he writes columns about politics in Germany, France, and the U.K., as well as about policy emerging from the European Union. His articles have been published by Newsweek, The American Conservative, the Washington Examiner, and the Mises Institute. He is a Young Voices Advocate, a regular contributor for Rare Media and the Foundation for Economic Education, and works as a Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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