A highly-touted climate and resilience bill from the government of President Emmanuel Macron is running into gale-force headwinds in France, after the country’s citizens’ assembly panned the plan and legislators came back with more than 4,000 amendments.
“The ambition is extremely weak and doesn’t respond to the needs of our time,” Mathilde Panot, of the left-wing party France Insoumise, told Climate Home News. “They made a mountain of it, and in the end there is only a mouse.”
The assembly, established in the wake of the country’s yellow vest protests in 2018, had brought together 150 citizens to find ways to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions at least 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 “in a spirit of social justice,” Climate Home says. “But those who took part in the novel democratic exercise, which concluded last month, have been left unimpressed by the government’s proposal to act on their recommendations.”
In the end, the government bill creates a legal framework to implement fewer than half of the assembly’s 149 recommendations.
“The draft climate law would ban fossil fuel advertisements, certain domestic flights, and new cars emitting more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2030. It would also create a new offence of ecocide,” Politico Europe wrote Sunday. “But participants in the democratic exercise expressed their disappointment with the outcome, concluding the bill didn’t match the convention’s ambition. As part of a scoring exercise, they gave it a mark of only 3.7 out of 10.”
Climate Home reports the aggregate assessment at 3.3 out of 10. “Asked whether the bill will allow France to come close to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990, their response was even harsher: averaging just 2.5 out of 10,” the UK-based newsletter states. “Nearly 60% of respondents described measures proposed by the governments as ‘unsatisfactory’ to meet the climate goal,” much less the 55% target the European Union adopted last year.
“We believe that the bill submitted by the government is not as ambitious as the work we have done,” assembly participant Jean-Pierre Cabrol told media.
“We had an objective that was very ambitious,” he added. “There is no bitterness, but there can be disappointment.”
The bill is also taking fire from the French Environmental, Economic and Social Committee and the High Council for Climate, Politico says.
“The assembly’s severe judgment comes after some of its members accused president Macron of backsliding on his promise to legislate on key recommendations,” Climate Home writes. That’s after Macron “committed in June last year to submit 146 of the assembly’s 149 propositions to the French parliament or to a referendum ‘without filter’.”
Instead, Panot “said the bill had ‘a democratic veneer’ but did not respect the propositions made by the assembly, with every recommendation concerning forests excluded from the text, for example.”
Climate Home has details on the political process awaiting the bill.