Macron faces battle to convince green and radical-left voters

The incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is expected in Le Havre today (14 April). He is likely to announce that his programme will be enriched to include climate issues. [EPA-EFE/Mohammed Badra]

Ahead of the final run-off on 24 April, French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to attract voters who supported the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Green Yannick Jadot in the first round, yet his approach sometimes borders on greenwashing.  EURACTIV France reports.

Macron came in first on 10 April, closely followed by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Macron will visit the Siemens Gamesa factory, which develops offshore wind turbines, on Thursday (14 April) in Le Havre, the territory of his former prime minister Edouard Philippe.

There are rumours that Macron will deliver a speech on the ecological transition there.

Already on Monday (11 April), Macron spoke in Denain where he recognised that this project “should be enriched” and that “if we want a new method, we must be able, on topics such as ecology, to hear the voices that have been expressed with great clarity”.

Macron appears to be trying to convince green voters, whose hopes have been crushed by Jadot’s disappointing result on 10 April, when he only obtained 4.6% of the votes.

However, Macron has been criticised for his mixed record on climate policy, and for the programme he proposes if re-elected.

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The Castex affair

During the first round of voting, Macron’s prime minister, Jean Castex, took a plane to his office in Prades, in the Pyrénées-Orientales. For those already disappointed by Macron’s five-year term, it was the last straw.

According to the independent media group Bon pote, the government is disconnected from French voters.

“Until the very end, this government does not understand why they are completely out of touch,” they wrote.

Asked about this issue during an exchange with the press on 13 April, Macron’s campaign team did not seem to understand the controversy.

“I don’t do symbol ecology,” commented a member of his team.

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A two-step mandate

For another campaign team leader, the Castex plane controversy is “not representative of all the action that has been taken”.

Macron’s team says that “since 2017, we have done more for the environment than ever before in a five-year term”. The campaign team also mentioned the incentives for the purchase of low polluting vehicles, the improvement of waste sorting, and the strategy to reduce single-use plastic.

However, in October 2021, the Administrative Court of Paris condemned the state for not respecting France’s commitments in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions, more precisely the 2015-2018 objectives set out in the country’s low-carbon strategy.

According to Macron’s campaign team, things have sped things up since 2018 but this opinion is not shared by all environmentalists, including Greenpeace France.

In a report that looks into the president’s five-year term, the campaign group concluded that “at the end of Macron’s five-year term, France is not meeting its climate commitments”.

Macron’s projects?

According to Macron’s campaign team, many projects have already been launched, implementation are in progress, and efforts will continue thanks to the €50 billion Macron wishes to devote to the green transition over the next five years if reelected.

This amount, they said, should make it possible to meet “the commitments made to Europe at the national level”, including the reduction in greenhouse gases to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030.

To achieve this, Macron wants to invest in nuclear power and renewable energy. “This programme, these proposals and these objectives are based on the IPCC report” as well as “on the scenarios presented by RTE”, the campaign team said.

But according to an analysis from the think tank The Shift Project, Macron’s programme remains far from France’s climate objectives.

His campaign team replied that the programmes of other candidates were not realistic.

“When Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s and Yannick Jadot’s programmes advocate phasing out nuclear power as soon as possible, they are incompatible and inconsistent with the reindustrialisation of the country, which is however the necessary condition for reducing our carbon footprint,” Macron’s campaign team said.

A lack of consistency?

Macron’s statements call for carbon neutrality by 2050, though some believe the means allocated to achieve this are insufficient. But his programme, which intends to help “everyone change their consumption habits” for more sobriety and less waste, clashes with Castex’s recent actions.

According to Vert’s calculations, Castex “emitted 4.46 tonnes of CO2 for this one round trip, or as much as a French citizen emits in six months”.

With his visit to Le Havre on Thursday, Macron could reinforce his programme and bring it more in line with the programmes put forward by the Greens and Melenchon’s La France Insoumise.

After the first round, “we must be able to acknowledge the message that was sent, especially in the votes cast for Mélenchon and Jadot,” said Macron’s campaign team.

[Edited by Daniel Eck/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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