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French riot police. Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

One of the biggest stories in the energy world right now is the fallout after French President Emmanuel Macron caved on new motor fuel taxes, suspending their implementation for six months after rioters flooded Paris.

Why it matters: I'm not an expert in French politics and won't pretend to understand all the dynamics at play here. But, the tumult at least partially signals the challenge of carbon pricing and raising fuel costs as a way to combat global warming, even as pricing regimes expand to more places.

Driving the news: There's a race underway to define what just happened — and some misinformation is flying around already.

  • Yesterday afternoon, as Axios' Khorri Atkinson noted, President Trump inaccurately tweeted that Macron's decision signals his agreement that the Paris climate deal is "fatally flawed."

But, but, but: While Trump is wrong about Macron's posture, it's true that the French mess can't be untethered from climate policy.

  • "Leaders in the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere have found their carbon pricing efforts running into fierce opposition," the Washington Post pointed out last night.

Where it stands: Conservatives have seized on the French action as activists on the right celebrate Macron's retreat.

  • Just before Macron backed off, Americans for Tax Reform circulated this piece from the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial page.
  • It calls the French protests part of a wider global pushback against carbon pricing — including the election-day failure of a proposed CO2 tax in Washington state.

The big picture: A recent OECD report I covered here gets to the challenge of carbon pricing as a policy tool, with a summary starkly concluding:

"[T]oday’s carbon prices — while slowly rising — are still too low to have a significant impact on curbing climate change."
  • Macron's fuel tax retreat arrives as advocates of carbon taxes in the U.S. are trying to chip away at the overwhelming political resistance to the idea among GOP lawmakers.
  • This includes the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), a group aligned with several Republican elder statesmen.

What they're saying: "The events in Paris reinforce the importance of rebating carbon fee revenue directly to the public, which is not only the most equitable option, but also the most popular," CLC's Greg Bertelsen tells Axios.

  • Noah Kaufman, an economist with Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, summed up the recent news this way:
"[I]t’s another setback for any policy that increases energy costs, which unfortunately includes just about every serious climate policy," he said in an email exchange last night."The nice thing about carbon pricing is that the revenues can be used to offset these increases in energy costs. But France wasn’t planning to use the revenue for that purpose."

Meanwhile, some experts and advocates are also cautioning against drawing wider conclusions about what happened overseas.

  • This Twitter thread from the Niskanen Center's Jerry Taylor, for instance, points out the big difference in fuel prices between France and the U.S. And we've got more on that just below, too.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

3 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."