>> The French government has been forced to suspend its planned hikes on fuel and energy taxes for six months after weeks of protests and nose-diving support for President Emmanuel Macron. And they may be softened when they are implemented. It's the first major defeat for Macron and comes at an inopportune time.
Reuters Paris bureau chief, Luke Baker.>> He's tried to show himself to be a different style of president. Someone who's willing to shake up France, to do things differently, and to drive policy changes like a carbon tax to encourage people to shift away from cars and to start to be more environmentally friendly.
If he backs down on this, which it looks like he's going to do, it will show that the president for the first time has shown weakness, is willing to change policy in the face of mass popular unrest. The irony is, that negotiators from around the world are meeting at the moment in Katowice in Poland, to discuss commitments to the Paris climate agreement.
So, Macron who has invested heavily in the environmental platform, who is the advocate of defending the Paris climate agreement, is now one of those leaders that's having to backtrack from some of those policies in order to placate the anger amongst his own citizens.>> The protests started as just opposition to the fuel taxes, but quickly evolved into more broad anguish over Macron's policies, which opponents say favor the wealthy at the expense of the common man.
His approval rate sits in the low 20s. The demonstrators that turned violent have caused the worst damage in a decade, mostly targeting wealthy neighborhoods, cafes, boutiques, even the Arc de Triomphe. Macron's defeat comes a day after the White House announced it was seeking to end its own subsidies for electric cars and renewable energy sources.
The US pulled out of the Paris climate agreement last year.