Going green, or greenwashing? A proposed climate law divides France


Emmanuel Macron’s credentials as a leader on climate issues are being tested as business and environmental groups spar over changes to the French way of life.

Less meat in French cafeterias. Bans on short-distance flights. Gas heaters on cafe terraces would be outlawed.

As President Emmanuel Macron moves to make France a global champion in the fight against climate change, a wide-ranging environmental bill passed by the French National Assembly this month promises to change the way the French live, work and consume.

It would require more vegetarian meals at state-funded canteens, block expansion of France’s airports and curb wasteful plastics packaging. Polluters could be found guilty of “ecocide,” a new offense carrying jail terms of up to 10 years for destroying the environment. If Mr. Macron gets his way, the fight against climate change would even be enshrined in the French constitution through a referendum.

But those lofty ambitions are running into a barrage of resistance.

Environmentalists and politicians from France’s Green party, rather than backing the legislation, have accused Mr. Macron’s government of watering down ambitious measures and putting corporate interests above tough proposals by a 150-person “citizens climate panel,” which Mr. Macron himself convened last year to address climate concerns.

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New York Times, 19 May 2021
; https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/19/business/macron-france-climate-bill.html