PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday told critics of fuel tax hikes "you’re right" after 1.15 million people signed a petition following violent "yellow vest" protests.
Macron called the petition, which suggests several ways to fight fossil fuel pollution without raising fuel taxes, a "citizens’ act".
"Your message, I heard it. I am responding to you directly, you are right," Macron wrote to the million plus people who signed the petition at the website Change.org.
He reminded the petition signers that his government has cancelled the planned increase in fuel tax and that no hikes in gas and electricity prices would be made during the winter.
While restating that reducing fossil fuels which contribute to climate change was a necessary action, Macron added that it "must not put the problems of the end of the world in opposition to the problems at the end of the month" -- alluding to the anger of the "yellow vest" protest movement about the cost of living in France and the difficulty in making ends meet each month.
After weeks of protests on consecutive Saturdays in cities across the country, which often turned violent, Macron last week announced a series of further concessions, including a 100 euro increase for five million minimum wage earners, the removal of a planned tax increase for a majority of pensioners, and tax-free overtime pay for all workers.
The concessions are expected to be brought to the National Assembly and Senate for votes before Christmas.
The number of people who have been killed during the "yellow vest" protests since they began in early November rose to nine on Thursday after a 60-year-old man was hit by a lorry at a demonstration by autoroute A62 near Agen in southwestern France. —AFP