Guest essay by Eric Worrall
French President Macron, arguably the greenest French President ever, appears to be in serious trouble. Radical French greens are accusing him of being in thrall to big business, of not doing enough to combat climate change.
Emmanuel Macron under attack over climate change
French president accused of doing too little, as he appoints new environment minister
French environment campaigners have warned Emmanuel Macron is doing too little to combat climate change and must radically rethink his environment policy if he is to honour his promise to “make this planet great again”.
Renewed criticism of the centrist French president’s approach to green issues came as Macron replaced his former environment minister, the TV personality Nicolas Hulot, who quit last week saying the government was in thrall to powerful lobby groups and taking only “mini-steps” that were insufficient to deal with climate change.
Macron insists he has gone further on green issues than any other French government, but Jean-François Julliard, the director general of Greenpeace France, said it was clear “the environment is not a priority for Emmanuel Macron and [the prime minister] Édouard Philippe who just use it as window dressing without any real will to engage on environmental transition”. He said he feared De Rugy would simply be “his master’s voice” and added: “Macron must at last take measure of the huge responsibility on his shoulders.”
Karima Delli, a Green member of the European parliament, said people wanted “a new pact for ecology”.
Pascal Canfin, the head of the World Wildlife Fund in France, who was a development minister in the last leftwing government, said a 21st-century shift was needed on clean energy “but the state is still set up as if it’s the 20th – or even 19th – century”.
In recent weeks, Macron’s approval ratings have dropped to the lowest since he came to power, as he faces slower economic growth, and struggles to shake off the label “president of the rich”. Over the summer, he faced the first major political scandal of his presidency when a senior security aide was filmed violently assaulting a young man and woman at the edge of a Paris demonstration.
President Macron has been a real try hard on climate issues. He attacked President Trump’s climate views when invited by President Trump to address the US Congress, he offered seven figure grants to US climate scientists to entice them to move to France, he even picking fights with other members of the European Union over their lack of commitment to European principles, including climate change.
But no matter what President Macron does, it is still not good enough.
Nobody, not even President Macron, can keep climate zealots happy. They always want more.