Referendum in sight as citizens' climate assembly seeks to upend French society
A lottery of French citizens chosen to debate and respond to the climate challenges facing society have begun voting on ambitious proposals to hand to the government – in a move that could send France to its first referendum in 15 years.
The Citizens Climate Convention (CCC), made up of 150 people aged between 16 and 80 chosen at random, is tasked with reducing carbon emissions while respecting social justice.
Voting on issues relating to housing, travel, food, production and work, etc, will continue over the weekend, before a final report – complete with advice on how to finance the measures – is delivered on Sunday.
Among the ideas that seek to profoundly change French society are reducing working hours, drastically limiting the sale of new vehicles, obliging homeowners to ensure their properties are energy efficient, regulating advertising and forcing companies to fund the country’s ecological transition.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said the proposals, developed over the past nine months, will be presented “without a filter” either to the people in the form of a referendum, or to parliament.
In an initiative that’s been hailed an “unprecedented national exercise in participatory democracy”, Macron last September gave the CCC the task of defining climate measures that would allow a reduction of “at least 40 percent of emissions by 2030…in the spirit of social justice”.
FranceInfo reported that a third of the measures have been drafted in the form of a law or regulation, ready to be implemented, while the remainder are moreover “declarations of intention”.
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Four proposals to amend or “revive” the constitution are on the table to ensure the fight against climate change and the goal of preserving diversity is cemented as “an objective of the republic".
They include stronger legal recourse for damage done to the environment, as well as the possible creation of the post of "environmental defender”.
First referendum since 2005?
In January, Macron told the CCC it could make recommendations on any legislative proposals it felt should go before the French people. "I think we should call for a referendum on some measures because this will enable us to share our concerns with the country,” he said.
The last time the French were called to a referendum was in 2005, when they decisively rejected a constitution for Europe. Since then, no head of state has risked soliciting the will of the people.
Voting by the CCC for its seventh and penultimate session can be followed live on online, with successful proposals to be posted to the the convention’s website on Sunday evening.
The CCC was originally meant to submit its proposals in April, but its work was disrupted by the Covid-19 epidemic.
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