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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

France Passes Climate Law, But Critics Say It’s Small

PARIS – France on Tuesday passed a sweeping law to tackle climate change, creating restrictions, incentives and quotas on transport, housing and consumption, despite criticism from environmental groups, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce emissions. To cut down on waste. The measures are not ambitious enough.

The legislation comes amid episodes of extreme weather that have raised concerns about the impact of global warming, particularly in Europe, which recently unveiled an aggressive blueprint to move away from fossil fuels, and where Countries like Germany and Belgium were hit by deadly floods last week. Putting climate change at the top of the political agenda.

President Emmanuel Macron, who is up for election next year, has tried to put France at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

But his support for a “practical ecology” – mindful of small, concrete steps and economic impacts – has faced criticism from left-wing politicians and environmental activists, who say his policies are too weak to make a real difference. Court decisions and reports from top expert bodies have also warned that his government is not on track to meet France’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Jean-François Juilliard, executive director of Greenpeace France, said the law was not in line with the “state of emergency”.

“This is a missed opportunity,” Mr Juilliard said in a small demonstration of about 30 activists in Paris on Tuesday.

The climate law was passed in final votes by the upper and lower houses of France’s parliament, after both houses reached agreement on a common version of the bill earlier this month. The Senate, which is dominated by authority, passed the law with a raised vote; The National Assembly, where Mr Macron’s party holds a majority, passed the law with 233 votes in favor and 35 votes in favor.

The legislation follows a slew of sanctions, financial incentives and other measures aimed at reducing waste, improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions in daily life. Some will come into force with immediate effect.

Among the changes: Landlords are no longer allowed to rent out poorly insulated properties; Single-use food packaging made of polystyrene will be banned from 2025; Advertisement of fossil fuel energy like gasoline to be phased out; And weekly vegetarian menus will become the norm in state-funded school cafeterias.

Domestic flights for travel that can be done by train in less than 2.5 hours are banned, unless they connect to an international flight. The subsidy for cleaners has been extended to electric bicycle purchases for drivers doing a polluting car trade. The law would also create low-emissions zones in urban areas with more than 150,000 residents by 2025, limiting the movement of some polluting vehicles.

France’s Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompilly told lawmakers on Tuesday that the planet was “running out of breath” and cited recent floods in Germany and Belgium as evidence that “the climate is turning into a threat.”

“We are living troubled and difficult times,” she said. But “our future is ours,” he said, calling the new law a “cultural change” that would bring ecology directly into people’s lives.

inspired by the law Citizen Climate Conference, A panel of 150 people randomly selected from across the country, who were tasked with preparing proposals with the help of experts, would balance ambitious climate legislation with economic fairness.

Mr Macron held the conference last year in the wake of the Yellow Vest protests in late 2019, when anger over an increased fuel tax turned into widespread and sometimes violent unrest.

But environmental activists – and even some members of the civic panel – have complained that the final version of the climate bill falls short of the convention’s initial ambitions.

“In the context of the climate catastrophe in Europe at the moment, this law is an aberration,” said Manon Castagne, an activist with the environmental group amis de la terre, or Friends of the Earth, said in the performance.

The law gives regions the ability, but does not require them, to tax polluting activities of freight transport starting in 2024. And a tax on polluting nitrogen fertilizers used in farming will only be “considered” if reduction targets are not met.

Earlier this month, the government also abandoned plans to include the fight against climate change in France’s constitution – a significant blow to Mr Macron, who designed the change as the symbolic backbone of his environmental policies And promised to hold a referendum on it. issue.

The High Council on Climate, an independent body, recently warned report good That France’s efforts were “inadequate” in line with its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 – compared to 1990 levels – to stay on track with its Paris Agreement commitments. France’s top administrative court has also recently Nine months deadline given to the government To take “all necessary steps” to reach its emissions reduction targets or face potential financial penalties.

Léontine Gallois contributed reporting.

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