PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of environmental measures on Monday after greens made huge advances in municipal elections.
The ecological agenda outlined a series of governmental actions over the next two years.
It came after Macron held a meeting with 150 members of France’s Citizens’ Convention for the Climate at Paris’ Elysee Palace.
The assembly consists of citizens chosen to spend nine months working on a series of ecological proposals for the country.
Macron approved almost all of the 149 ideas proposed by the group to fight the climate crisis without slowing down the country’s economy or deepening social divides.
“The climate challenge forces us to go further, faster. It is time to act,” Macron said hours after his party suffered a series of defeats at the hands of environmental candidates.
He said the unprecedented result was “a barometer of what the French think” and shows that “ecology is at the heart of their concerns.”
In his speech, Macron said that 146 of the 149 proposals will be adopted in the form of decrees, when possible, and a specific law before the end of the summer.
He did not rule out calling referendums to make ecological reforms if parliamentary procedures become entangled.
The French leader also announced an additional 15 billion euros to support the country’s environmental transition over the next two years, within the country’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Macron thanked the citizens for their work and praised his proposals which he said “combine the need for a profound transformation that allows us to preserve the environment with the need to maintain our social model.”
He said environmental changes should not be made at an economic cost and that the pandemic lockdown had practically paralyzed the economy but only reduced polluting emissions by eight percent.
He added that protecting the planet should be a social springboard, generating investment, employment and wealth.
Macron rejected three of the proposed measures, the introduction of a four percent tax on share dividends, a 110 kilometer per hour speed limit on motorways and including the environment ahead of human rights in France’s constitution.
He backed the creation of an “ecocide” crime which would make it an offense to cause serious damage to the environment.
Macron also promised to promote carbon taxation at a European level and impose border taxes on products imported from the most polluting countries.