France’s environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, resigned from Emmanuel Macron’s government Tuesday, citing disappointing progress in tackling a number of environment and climate issues.
The move will come as a major blow to the president, who loses a key ally and one of the most popular politicians in France, especially with younger voters, many of whom grew up watching a nature television program he presented in the 1990s.
The decision is the result of an “accumulation of disappointments,” Hulot said in an interview with France Inter, citing pesticides, climate change and biodiversity as areas where the government has failed to make significant progress.
“I don’t want to lie anymore. I don’t want to create the illusion that my presence in the government means that we are on top of these issues and therefore I take the decision to quit this government,” Hulot said.
Hulot said last October he was giving himself a year “to see if I am useful,” adding he was aware he would “not be able to pull off any miracles overnight.”
Over the past year, Macron and Hulot pursued a green program ranging from upping global climate ambition and banning pesticides to freeing bears in the Pyrenees and cutting back on nuclear power.
But the green tandem has had to backtrack on almost all parts of that agenda.
Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe were not informed of his decision prior to his announcement, according to Hulot.
Benjamin Griveaux, a government spokesperson, told BFMTV he regrets Hulot’s resignation but criticized the minister for failing to inform Macron of his decision ahead of time.
Hulot consistently scores well in popularity polls, while Macron’s own ratings are plumbing new lows.