May 15, 2021

French Lawmakers to Vote on Controversial Climate Bill

PARIS – France’s centrist government has released a video ahead of Wednesday’s vote on the so-called Climate and Resilience bill, with Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili explaining how it will lead to cleaner air, more insulated buildings and a greener France overall.
Polls find many French citizens support the spirit of the massive legislation, which aims to meet the country’s goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. A recent report by the EU’s climate service found 2020 was Europe’s hottest year on record, and the region was warming faster than the rest of the world.
The French bill’s dozens of measures include limiting the most polluting vehicles in urban areas, slapping ecotaxes on truck transport, banning heated restaurant terraces and capping rent on insulated housing.
The National Assembly is expected to pass the legislation before it heads to the Senate.
But the bill is deeply controversial, with industry saying it’s too constraining, and green groups saying it doesn’t go far enough.
Chloe Gerbier, legal officer for environmental NGO Notre Affaire a Tous (Our Shared Responsibility), said the legislation in no way meets the urgency of the climate crisis. She and others said it drastically waters down proposals made by a citizens’ climate convention set up by President Emmanuel Macron.
Earlier wording in the bill, for example, that made serious environmental abuses a crime now tags them as lesser misdemeanors. Green groups also want a bigger category of short-haul domestic flights banned in favor of train transport.
France’s airline industry, hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, doesn’t want any flight bans. Nicolas Paulissen, managing director of the Union of French Airports, says it doesn’t make sense to penalize French airlines, when much of the industry’s growth is happening in Africa and Asia.
“We do rather believe in the greening of aviation through technological innovation, for instance, and that’s why we encourage the French government to finance the research for new technologies allowing the aviation to be greener than in the future,” Paulissen said.
Pompili acknowledges a slew of criticism, but says the legislation is balancing sharply opposing interests to bring everyone on board.
Earlier this year, a Paris court convicted the French state of failing to address the climate crisis and for not keeping its promises to tackle greenhouses emissions. The government is appealing the ruling.

Source: Voice of America

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