Macron failure: President’s ‘unambitious’ climate change law torn apart by over 100 NGOs

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In an open letter to the French President, 110 NGOs including Greenpeace, ActionAid and WWF, said Mr Macron “lacked ambition” with his legislation aimed at tackling climate change. In the letter, the environmentalists attacked the French leader for “depriving our country of a tremendous potential to exit from climate, health, economic and social crises”.

The President will present his bill to the Cabinet today basing his proposals on a report from a citizens’ assembly which outlined 149 recommendations to fight climate change.

But the NGOs argue the bill fails to address all points raised by the assembly.

They wrote: “You have initiated an innovative approach through the Citizen’s Climate Convention aiming to involve citizens in the evolution of the law to keep our climate commitments in a spirit of social justice.

“While the citizens’ proposals were to be transcribed into law, it is clear that the account is not there. The impact study accompanying the bill drawn from the Citizen’s Convention thus recognises that the proposed measures will not, as they stand, meet the objectives of reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030. And this, whereas this target is in itself insufficient given the new objective of -55 percent adopted last December at the European level.

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“As for the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) and the National Council for Ecological Transition (CNTE), recently consulted for an opinion on the bill, their opinions converge. They are indeed both worried about the inadequacy of the measures taken to achieve our objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also about the weakness of the mechanisms to reduce social inequalities.

“The EESC thus indicates that ‘the numerous measures of the bill, which are generally relevant, often remain limited, deferred or subject to conditions such that their implementation in the short term is uncertain’.

“This bill largely gives way to incitement and simple encouragement to change practices where government intervention is required.

“However, the expected benefits of the measures proposed by the 150 citizens are numerous: fewer people living in energy sieves, reduced air pollution, healthier food that is accessible to all, a mobility offer that emits less and more. inclusive, more jobs in key sectors of ecological transition, etc.”

They continued: “Mr President of the Republic, by thus reducing the ambition of the measures proposed by the Citizen’s Convention on the Climate, you are depriving our country of a tremendous potential to exit from climate, health, economic and social crises.

“Europe, and you have contributed to it, has chosen to anchor its future on a Green Pact, and to position itself, via this new roadmap, as a world leader in energy transition.

“But this ‘Green deal’ only makes sense if the Member States, starting with France, seize on it to anchor in their own territories a new ecological and social contract, which would make ecological transition the cornerstone of all public policies while ensuring that no one is left on the side of this transition.

“The bill drawn from the Citizen’s Convention on the Climate should be fully in line with this objective and make it possible to orient our economy and, more broadly, our entire society in a different way.

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“That is why, as the parliamentary debate begins, our organisations expect your government and the representatives of our nation to revive the original ambition of this bill. Do not deprive our country of this new breath which it needs more than ever.

“We ask you, Mr President of the Republic, to accept the expression of our highest consideration.”

The damning letter comes after the French President was found guilty of inaction in the fight against climate change by a French court last week.

France’s government is at fault for not doing enough to combat climate change, a French court said on February 3, in what environmental campaigners called a landmark ruling that could ramp up pressure on other countries to act on global warming.

The ruling has been dubbed “the case of the century”.

It was brought by four NGOs who accused the French state of not living up to its own commitments – including a multi-year plan to cut carbon emissions – or to the 2015 Paris Climate accord.

The court’s decision comes as an embarrassment to the French President after his numerous calls to “make our planet great again”.

In its ruling, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris said there were “wrongful deficiencies on the part of the state in implementing public policies to allow it to achieve objectives it had set on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”.

Reacting to the ruling, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said although the government was making huge efforts to catch up, it was fair to say France had been late in addressing global warming.

He said: “I share in that observation, and we are responding, and those who urge the state to go further should make proposals so we can reach these objectives and go even further.”

Cécile Duflot, Executive Director of Oxfam France, one of the NGOs that brought the case, called yesterday’s decision “a historic victory for climate justice”.

“For the first time, a French court has ruled that the state can be held responsible for its climate commitments,” she said, adding that the ruling was “a timely reminder to all governments that actions speak louder than words”.

The court ruled the NGOs which brought the case suffered moral damage as a consequence of the state’s slow action on climate change.

It ordered the state to pay them each the symbolic amount of one euro in compensation.

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