Hamon and Jadot call for end to Lyon-Turin rail project

The planned high-speed rail line will connect Lyon and Turin at a cost of €8-20bn. [8Uhr/ Flickr]

A ban on endocrine disruptors, the end of nuclear power and the suspension of the Lyon-Turin high-speed train line: this is Yannick Jadot’s price for supporting Socialist candidate for the French presidency Benoît Hamon.  EURACTIV France reports.

After several weeks of debate, the Greens officially joined forces with the Socialists in their bid for the French presidency on Thursday (23 February).

Jadot, who emerged from the Green primary as the party’s presidential candidate, would have won around 2% of the vote in the first round of the election, according to the latest polls.

Ecology and socialism

The Green MEP was quick to extend the hand of friendship to Hamon, the winner of the left-wing primary, whose social and ecological programme is broadly similar. Hamon represents “the best of ecology and the best of socialism”, Jadot told RTL the day after the pact between the two was made official.

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The agreement that Jadot will withdraw from the campaign and throw his weight behind the Socialist candidate was approved by Green Party members on Sunday (26 February).

But the effect this will have on Hamon’s chances of reaching the Élysée are as yet unknown. The Socialist is still struggling to close the gap on leaders Marine Le Pen, François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron. As things stand, he would fall well short of qualifying for the second round on 9 April.

A green contract

The deal negotiated between the two candidates contains many of the long-standing staples of Green policy, including ending France’s reliance on nuclear power.

Concretely, the deal offers “a progressive and complete withdrawal” from nuclear within the next 25 years. The two partners plan to begin closing reactors once Hamon takes office. As for the renewable energy targets, these have been boosted to 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2050.

Endocrine disruptors and pesticides

Another point where the two candidates agree is on the banning of pesticides and endocrine disruptors.

According to Jadot, the use of pesticides has grown during François Hollande’s mandate as president, despite the big promises made at Nicolas Sarkozy’s environmental conference in 2008, where a timetable was drawn up to cut pesticide use in half by 2018.

The first recorded reduction in pesticide use, of just 2.5%, occurred in 2015.

Recently, the organisation Générations Futures found endocrine disruptors in the hair samples of two Green MEPs, José Bové and Jadot himself.

In this new report, published on 23 February, the organisation took hair samples from a group of high-profile ecologists and sent them for laboratory analysis. The result: 100% of the subjects showed traces of each of the substances analysed.

Lyon-Turin in the spotlight

The “greening” of Hamon’s programme includes the cancellation of certain big, controversial infrastructure projects like the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport (NDDL) and the Lyon-Turin high-speed train line.

While the Socialist’s opposition to the NDDL project was already well documented, he had not previously spoken out against the rail connection.

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The two candidates agreed that big investment projects with “a heavy environmental impact” should be opened up to discussion to try to find “alternative solutions”.

They promised a consultation on the environmental impacts of both the NDDL airport and the Lyon-Turin line, to “(re-)evaluate the responses to the dangers of pollution in alpine valleys”.

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The controversial high-speed train line between Lyon and Turin is to be examined by the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF, amid huge cost overruns and allegations of mafia links in Italy. The EU has already contributed €450 million to the project, but France and Italy will claim a further €4 billion of EU funding. EURACTIV France reports.

The Lyon-Turin rail link has been strongly criticised by the Greens since the beginning. Not only do they see it as a potentially massive environmental hazard, but they believe its estimated cost of between €8bn and €20bn is unjustified.

But the construction of a 57 km tunnel linking France and Italy, through which the train line would pass, is one of the European Union’s pet transport infrastructure projects. The EU will fund part of the project through the European Interconnection Mechanism.