French environment

French government examines climate bill based on citizen's panel input

French Minister for Ecological transition, Barbara Pompili. She presented the government's draft legislation on the climate to the council of ministers on 10 February 2021.
French Minister for Ecological transition, Barbara Pompili. She presented the government's draft legislation on the climate to the council of ministers on 10 February 2021. © Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

The French government is examining its long-awaited climate bill, based partly on recommendations from the citizen's assembly on the climate but criticised for watering down the panel’s input.

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The government says the "climate and resilience" bill is about common sense ecology, while critics say it lacks ambition.

“This is not just about changing the motors in our cars or the machines in our factories. It's about changing civilisation, culture and ways of life," said ecological transition minister Barbara Pompili, presenting the legislation.

The bill aims to hold France to its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

The government says the bill will set the framework to translate into law some 50 of the 149 proposals put forward by the 150-person climate assembly. Of the proposals, it has implemented 75, and 71 are in process, including the ones included in the draft legislation.

Among the bill's 65 articles include the prohibition of renting of houses or apartments that are not energy efficient, the reduction of short-haul flights in France, and curbing urban development.

The Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese), which hosted the citizen assembly, considers the bill to be “generally pertinent”, but says the measures “remain often limited, put off or put under conditions such that their implementation in a short time frame is uncertain”.

The citizen's assembly has one last meeting at the end of February to evaluate the government’s action on its proposals.

The proposed legislation, which will be debated in parliament starting in March and voted on by September, is being presented as a major success for the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, who in December said: “No government will have ever done as much for ecology.”

The government asked the Boston Consulting Group to evaluate its climate ambitions, which concluded that France can reach its objectives if it perfectly executes everything it has set out to do, including the measures in the bill.

The measures should meet the 2030 targets “on the condition that they are executed in full and voluntarily”, said the report.

France can reduce its emissions by 38 percent by 2030, but only if all of the measures are “perfectly executed, with no exception, despite the difficult context of the economic crisis.”

The efforts will involve unprecedented financial and industrial engagements.

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