En Marche! Nicolas Hulot and the environmental policies of France


La main tendue de la France envers les volontaires pour travailler ensemble sur le #climat #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain https://t.co/63jpZyrpgj

— Nicolas Hulot (@N_Hulot) June 8, 2017

The election of centrist Emmanuel Macron as president of France and subsequent parliamentary victories of the En Marche! party have done much to alleviate the fears of environmentalists concerned about the rise of right-wing nationalist movements sweeping across the globe. 

Foto: Nicolas Hulot

Macron campaigned as a staunch supporter of the Paris Agreement and has championed France’s role in the European Union.  He has already taken major steps to create a carbon neutral France, phase out gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles and end new licenses for domestic oil and gas extraction. Many of these bold initiatives undertaken by the Macron administration are being driven by the Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot.

In the second round of France’s 2017 presidential election, Macron presented himself as the preferable candidate on nearly every conceivable issue to Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate of the National Front.  While the former investment banker and economy minister campaigned on moving toward an economy powered by renewable energy, increasing the carbon tax and prioritizing the Paris Agreement, there were concerns that Macron would emphasize business interests over environmental issues

Following his election, Macron appointed people from the left, right and center of the political spectrum to join the administration that included some with controversial environmental track records.  Of particular concern was the selection of Édouard Philippe as to Prime Minister.  Philippe is the former center-right mayor of La Havre and former director of public affairs at the nuclear group Avera. 

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Foto: Nicolas Hulot

However, the appointment of environmental activist and nature documentary filmmaker Hulot to become France’s ecology minister offered a radical departure from Philippe and other members of Macron’s administration.  Hulot ran as the Green Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election and backed left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon during the first round of 2017’s presidential election. He previously turned down opportunities to serve under the administrations of former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande

Foto: Nicolas Hulot

The United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has helped galvanize Macron and his administration to lead the fight against climate change, with France pledging to become carbon neutral by 2050 in the wake of President Donald Trump’s announcement. Under Hulot’s guidance, France also looks to end the sale of gas and petrol vehicles by 2040, end new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, phase out coal plants by 2022 and reduce its share of nuclear power generation from 75 to 50 percent of energy production.

While the Macron administration is less than two months old, France has positioned itself as a stabilizing force on climate policy as the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement threatens to undermine international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and embrace renewable energy. Under Hulot’s guidance, France appears poised to fulfill Macron’s efforts to “Make Our Planet Great Again”.