France is committed to changing its “ way of life ” in the fight against the climate
Countries that signed the 2015 Paris climate agreement must do more than cut carbon dioxide emissions and develop new technologies to fight global warming – and accept the need to change their way of life, a declared the French Minister of the Environment.
Speaking in an interview, Barbara Pompili acknowledged the importance of technological solutions such as the deployment of hydrogen in Europe, the United States and Asia. But she also stressed that the far-reaching bill that is making its way through the French parliament “would lead to profound changes in the lives of our fellow citizens”.
It was “great” for Americans and others to rely on new technologies like hydrogen. “But I think we have an additional ingredient in France and in Europe. We take these new technologies, but we take it a step further because we also look at our lifestyles, ”she told the Financial Times. “We are really talking about a change of model.”
The legislation includes restrictions on domestic flights, requirements for “climate labeling” of products such as clothing to show their impact on global warming, stricter regulations to enforce building insulation and measures to reduce producing carbon from agriculture while ensuring sustainability and promoting vegetarian meal choices.
France under President Emmanuel Macron has a bitter experience of the political costs of trying to persuade citizens to lead more climate-friendly lives yellow vests The anti-government protests that rocked his presidency began in 2018 as motorists’ protest against rising fuel prices due to a carbon tax.
Pompili acknowledged the difficulties that could result from green policies, but said climate legislation, which is expected to be enacted by the end of the summer, shows how France can strike a balance between saving the planet and preserving economy and standard of living.
the 44-page bill “On climate change and the strengthening of resilience” is one of the fruits of Macron’s “great debate” aimed at defusing the yellow vests crisis and adopts most of the proposals suggested by the 150 members of the Citizen’s Climate Convention.
They include the ban on flights for journeys that can be made by train in less than two and a half hours, as well as the creation of a new offense of “ecocide” for those accused of environmental damage.
Some Green activists say the law doesn’t go far enough – they wanted a flight ban on travel that can be done by train in four hours or less, for example – but Pompili said the idea was to run a marathon over decades, no sprinting. advance with overly ambitious measures.
Among other provisions, the law would strengthen low-emission zones for cars and aim to reduce air pollution in Paris by 40% in four years, she said.
“We had social problems,” Pompili said, “but with this law that we are now voting on, we are showing that you can continue to reform your economy and transform the country from an ecological point of view while maintaining support. essential for those affected and the maintenance of our social system. ”
She added: “We learn from our mistakes. . . With the law, we are walking a fine line, making big changes while keeping it economically and socially acceptable. “
France has been a strong supporter of the EU’s planned ‘carbon border adjustment mechanism’ – a potential tax to ensure that European industries are not undercut by imports from countries with carbon standards. ‘lower carbon emissions.
Pompili had hoped, when Joe Biden was elected to the US presidency, that the White House would give the EU and the US a chance to push for international carbon taxes and face Chinese opposition. to this idea.
But John Kerry, the US climate envoy, was lukewarm about the EU’s plan last month, saying it had “serious implications for economies, relations and trade” and should only be a “last resort”. Mathias Cormann, the new secretary general of the OECD, has also been critical, and Biden himself has been silent on carbon pricing since taking office.
Asked about these obstacles, Pompili said: “The question now is exactly that – how to bring everyone together. There is a working group between France and the United States [led by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire and Kerry] set up to work there. . . You cannot take the carbon frontier adjustment mechanism alone. It must obviously be accompanied by discussions on carbon pricing more broadly. “
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