French parliament approves climate change bill to green economy
The French National Assembly on Tuesday approved a sweeping climate change bill that will prevent future airport expansions, ban outdoor patio heaters and reduce packaging waste.
France aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels, but environmental activists say it is dragging its feet. In a landmark decision in February, a court ruled that France must do more to tackle climate change.
After more than 200 hours of debate in parliamentary committees and the lower house, lawmakers approved the bill by 332 votes to 77.
“Rather than big words and huge, unachievable goals that only generate social resistance, we are putting in place effective measures,” Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said.
The legislation follows a citizen consultation in which 150 members of the public suggested dozens of measures to reduce emissions.
Many participants criticized President Emmanuel Macron for diluting their ideas, but a year before the French presidential election, and with green parties performing elsewhere in Europe, Macron is hoping the bill will bolster his environmental credentials.
Greenpeace said the legislation did not go far enough.
“It is a law that could have been adequate 15 years ago, when the climate emergency was less pressing. In 2021, it will not be enough to fight effectively against global warming”, declared Jean-FranÃ§ois Julliard, director from Greenpeace France.
The legislation would ban the use of gas heaters on the outdoor terraces of cafes and restaurants from April 2022.
Public schools will have to offer a menu without meat or fish at least one day a week. Supermarkets will have to reduce packaging waste to reduce the use of plastics, while products such as clothing will have to wear an “ecoscore” measuring their impact on the environment.
The bill also prohibits the construction of new airports or the expansion of the capacity of existing airports in one of the most visited countries in the world. Domestic flights on routes served by a train journey of less than 2.5 hours will be eliminated unless they connect to an international flight.
At the same time, the sale of cars emitting more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer will be banned from 2030, and a subsidy for electric bicycles is extended.
Owners will be banned from renting poorly insulated properties thanks to a gradual increase in energy efficiency requirements from 2025.
The bill now passes through the Senate before a final vote in the lower house where Macron and his allies are in the majority.
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