Wed, 14 Apr 2021

Battle lines are being drawn in France's National Assembly, where the government's flagship "climate and resilience bill" landed on Monday. Lawmakers face the arduous task of debating some 5,000 amendments to the much-criticised text, which seeks to lay a roadmap for France's green energy transition.

A committee of 70 MPs has been put in charge of examining the draft law over the next two weeks in what will be one of the last major legislative battles of President Emmanuel Macron's political mandate.

Sixty-nine articles, divided into themes including transport, housing, food, consumption and environmental justice, will be the subject of lively debate.

Already, a lottery of ordinary people convened to advise the government on its climate strategy, the Citizens' Climate Convention, has said it's unimpressed with the way its proposals have been translated into law. During its final meeting last week, the convention gave the bill a score of 3.3 out of 10.

"The law lacks so much muscle that I don't even recognise our objectives of the convention anymore," William Aucant, a member of the convention, told French channel LCI.

Widespread criticism

That criticism follows last month's warning by the High Council on Climate, a body also set up Macron, that France would fail to meet its climate targets under what it called a "weak and insufficient" law that lacked "strategic scope".

It also comes after the Paris Administrative Court held France legally responsible for its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, finding the state liable for "ecological damage" linked to global warming.

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The council urged reforms to proposals on domestic flight restrictions and the energy renovation of buildings. It also called for a ban on advertising fossil fuels to be extended to goods and services that are incompatible with France's ecological transition.

France has committed to reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and the climate bill - one of the densest of the president's five-year term - is how the government intends to fulfil that promise.

'Watered-down' proposals

Proposals from the citizen's convention, Macron had said, would be presented "without a filter" either to parliament, or to the people in the form of a referendum.

Fast forward two years and 46 of the convention's 149 proposals have made it into the climate and resilience bill. According to France Info, a third of those, have been "truncated" or only partially included.

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The crime of ecocide had been transformed into a misdemeanour, it said, while restrictions on advertising polluting products were watered down.

Despite the backlash, the government has strongly defended its bill, with Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili promising that, once passed, the Climate and Resilience Act would "put ecology at the heart of French life".

Originally published on RFI

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