Wed, 31 May 2023

The French government has unveiled an ambitious plan to accelerate cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions, targeting a reduction of 50 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

The roadmap - presented by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne - includes detailed figures for reductions for individual sectors of the economy, ranging from the transport industry to households.

The objectives - from speeding up the transition to electric cars or switching freight from road to rivers - are aimed at bringing France's ambitions for slashing carbon pollution into line with the EU's target for 2030.

France has so far cut its emissions by 25 percent compared with 1990 levels, requiring significant fresh efforts if it is to hit the new 50 percent target.

The centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron is wary of provoking consumers with costly initiatives, with memories still fresh of an increase in fuel taxes and vehicle emissions restrictions in 2018 which sparked nationwide protests.

The so-called "Yellow Vest" revolt against Macron began in small and medium-sized towns and the countryside where locals felt they were being penalised for using their cars when no other forms of transport were available.

"We're asking for a bit from the smallest (polluters) and a lot from the biggest," an aide to Borne told reporters, meaning around half of efforts would be for companies, a quarter for households and a quarter for local administrations.

Concern about climate change has leapt up the political agenda in the last 12 months, with the country experiencing its hottest year since records began last year which left rivers dry, crops withered and widespread water shortages.

A record nationwide winter drought during January and February has also led to fears about water supplies this summer.

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Macron and climate change

Macron, who has admitted to grasping the scale of the planet's environmental problems late, promised to put climate change at the heart of his second term in office which began in May 2022.

He pledged to make France the first major nation to abandon fossil fuels and gave Borne an extra job title for planning the ecological transition.

But the 45-year-old former investment banker has been derided by environmental groups and Greens lawmakers for going too slow and he sparked criticism on 11 by calling for a "pause" on EU environmental legislation.

Originally published on RFI

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