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05/12/2016

Le Pen launches ‘patriotic’ environmental movement

Sustainable Dev.

Le Pen launches ‘patriotic’ environmental movement

The National Front's environmental movement will campaign for nuclear power and against emissions caps.

[IAEA Imagebank/Flickr]

Marine Le Pen’s National Front has launched the “New Ecology” movement. The French nationalist party’s take on environmental activism will include opposing international climate negotiations and promoting nuclear energy. EurActiv France reports

In its first foray into environmentalism, the French National Front (NF) has launched a movement called “New Ecology” which it says will provide a “realistic and patriotic” response to the environmental challenges of the day.

This appears to be a glaring contradiction, as the NF is campaigning in favour of nuclear power and against the international negotiations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The leader of the movement, Philippe Murer, told the National Front congress in Lyon that “respect for the environment and ecology are very important to the NF,” and added that the party should do more to respond to the issues of pollution, health, national independence and geopolitics.

Renewed “ecological” support for nuclear

Two NF Members of Parliament, Gilbert Collard and Marion Maréchal Le Pen, presented an amendment to the French energy transition bill, in which they held the French nuclear sector up as “exemplary for its safety record, the training if its experts and the quality of its research, which give it its international reputation”.

The Greens expressed their surprise at this position, pointing out that the French nuclear sector relies on imports for 100% of its uranium, completely dismantling the extreme right party’s energy independence argument.

The NF has also announced its opposition to the extraction of shale gas, and its support for the development of methods of exploiting methane from agricultural waste, prescribing a programme of “conservation agriculture”.             

Socialists condemn hypocrisy

The movement sees itself as an alternative to Europe Ecology – the Greens (EELV), which the NF secretary general denounced as “the party that has done the most harm to environmentalism.”

“They have managed to make us, the very people who are so attached to the flora, fauna and landscapes of our beautiful country, hate political environmentalism,”. But this newfound enthusiasm for the environment has failed to impress the rest of the political class.

The Socialist party condemned the hypocrisy of the new movement on Twitter, criticising their appropriation of the environmental movement for their electoral purposes.

NF fights international climate agreement

While ecologists the world over support a coordinated, international approach to climate and environmental issues, the NF prefers a national model.

The National Secretary of the EELV for France, Emmanuelle Cosse, faced the President of the National Front in a televised debate on BFMTV on 7 December, where Marine Le Pen accused her of “promoting a profoundly anti-ecological model through the European Union and the absence of borders,” and advanced her ideas for a nationally-focused energy transition.

Emmanuelle Cosse responded that the NF had shown little interest in the energy transition in France, beyond presenting two amendments aimed at removing the greenhouse gas reduction objectives.

>> Read: National Front ‘not worried’ about finding anti-EU allies in Parliament

The National Front has also opposed working on a global solution to global warming in the European Parliament, voting against a resolution that called upon the EU’s member states to play a constructive role in the Lima climate negotiations.

The MEP, Mireille D’ornano, justified her negative vote on the resolution, saying it was “built on vague ideas and imprecise objectives,” and “based on ideologically tainted material”.

The justification given by her colleagues Gilles Lebreton and Sylvie Goddyn was the failure of the Lima conference. Goddyn stated that “the Lima conference was bound to be a failure because ecological policies, however binding they may be, are cancelled out by policies of free trade”. 

Background

The energy transition was a central part of François Hollande's presidential campaign in 2012.

France wants to be an example to other countries when it hosts the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris and is playing a leading role in the European climate debate.

France's reliance on nuclear energy means it has much lower CO2 emissions than coal-dependent countries like Denmark or Germany.

However, energy efficiency has a bad track-record in France.

Further Reading