Macron pledges billions for climate after Greens make gains

Science & Technology
French President Emmanuel Macron meets French citizens' council over environment proposals in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a meeting with members of the Citizens’ Convention on Climate to discuss over environment proposals at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, June 29, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron, who once declared “Make The Planet Great Again” but whose climate agenda got knocked off course by persistent street protests, is under new pressure to fight climate change after the Green Party did well in Sunday’s local elections. (Christian Hartmann/Pool via AP)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron, who once declared “Make The Planet Great Again” but whose climate agenda got knocked off course by street protests, is under new pressure to fight climate change after the Green Party did well in local elections.

France’s Green party and its left-wing allies made significant gains in the second round of voting Sunday, capturing cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg and Bordeaux.

Macron declined on Monday to comment on the elections, which have seen his young, centrist party make modest results across France and defeats in the country’s biggest cities amid a lack of local roots. A government reshuffle is expected in the coming weeks

There is no need to “draw excessive consequences from elections that are above all local elections,” he said in a news conference during a visit to Germany.

Earlier, Macron promised 15 billion euros ($16.7 billion) in new climate-related financing after meeting with a citizens’ group that he convened earlier this year in response to criticism that he wasn’t doing enough to battle climate change.

The citizens’ group gave him a new list of climate proposals drawn from an ambitious report it compiled, which includes recommendations on fighting CO2 emissions by weening the French off solo car rides and proposing alternatives such as electric cars, as well as capping the harmful effects of air travel.

Travel produces 30% of greenhouse gases in France.

The yellow vest economic justice protests that brought France to its knees for months in 2018 and 2019 knocked some of Macron’s green agenda off track as it was triggered by opposition to a new fuel tax that he planned to help fund the climate fight.

Earlier this year, Macron tried to woo green voters by calling the battle against climate change and environmental destruction “the fight of the century.” The words came during a February visit to a melting glacier in the French Alps but it was condemned as a hollow electoral stunt by environmental campaigners.

Critics accused Macron of using the icy photo-op to burnish his government’s green credentials ahead of the local elections.

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