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Macron pitches non-punitive green transition with new package

Macron pitches non-punitive green transition with new package

by host

France is betting on the carrot rather than the stick to meet its climate goals.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said that green transition should focus on providing incentives rather than imposing outright obligations as he presented a plan to halve carbon emissions by 2030, the so-called planification écologique package. 

“We want an ecology that is accessible and fair, an ecology that leaves no one without a solution,” Macron said at the end of a meeting with key ministers involved in the plan at the Elysée palace. The French president stressed that France’s green policy should not be punitive.

The plan comes as other nations wrestle with similar choices, with the U.K. rolling back on its climate goals for electoral reasons and Germany increasingly questioning the EU’s environmental agenda. Macron wants to show that he is committed to emissions-reduction goals while not burdening citizens through costly obligations — a perfect example of the centrist president’s signature en même temps (“at the same time”) rationale where he frequently argues for and then against a case.

France is putting €7 billion of extra cash in next year’s budget to bring France closer to its climate goals, which include €2.2 billion to making buildings energy-efficient, €1.8 billion to stoke energy technologies such as hydrogen and biomethane and €1.4 billion to French farmers and forest development.

As an example of France not imposing outright bans on pollutant technologies, Macron confirmed that France will not ban oil-fired or gas boilers — a measure that proved to be controversial in Germany.

“Like others, we could have totally banned gas boilers but, since we are a big producer of gas boilers, we decide to insist on an incentive policy,” Macron said, adding that the plan will provide financial support to the heat pumps sector in a bid to triple heat pumps production in France by 2027.

He also stressed that the government has received pledges from France’s top 50 polluters to cut by 45 percent their carbon emissions by offering them financial support.

Macron confirmed that France will shut down its two last coal plants by 2027. The two plants were meant to permanently close in 2022, but they remained active during the energy crisis when almost a half of France’s nuclear reactors stopped producing electricity amid maintenance and technical problems.

In his speech, the French president also signalled to the EU that France is ready to move alone on some key files where national interests are at stake.

France “will take back control” of its electricity prices by the end of the year, Macron said, but gave no details on how France could do that while being part of the EU’s common electricity market. The announcement comes just as EU countries are divided on a reform of the EU electricity market, something Paris has been strongly pushing.

On the top of plan, which for now mainly lists targets for emission reduction and industrial production of clean technologies, the government will present a biodiversity strategy in October and a so-called “adaptation plan” in December, Macron said.

Earlier this year, Macron raised criticism for calling for a regulatory break on EU environmental laws.

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