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Green politician supports lowering French motorway toll fees

Environmental politician Yannick Jadot has come out in support of controversial proposals to lower the French speed limit, and reduce the cost of motorway tolls as “compensation”. 

26 June 2020
A car driving fast down a road. A French politician has said if the speed limit in France goes down, toll fees should too.According to a survey, 47% of French residents were in favour of reducing the speed limit and motorway toll fees.
By Joanna York

However the suggestion of lowering speed limits to 110 kph is unpopular among people living in France.

Last Sunday (June 21), the citizens’ Climate Change Convention suggested reducing the motorway speed limit in France from 130 kph to 110 kph. 

It was one of 149 climate proposals put forward to be considered by the government.

The speed limit proposal was then supported “in a personal capacity” by minister of transport and ecology, Élisabeth Borne, who said lowering the limit could “reduce the effects of greenhouse gases by 20%”.

Read more: Minister in favour of lowering French motorway speed limit

Read more: French climate change convention to vote this weekend

Politician proposes lowering tolls too

Yesterday (June 25), member of European parliament, Mr Jadot told news source Franceinfo that he was also in favour of reducing the speed limit in France, on the grounds that it would “have a substantial, significant, impact on emissions of greenhouse gasses, and on motorway safety”.

However, he added: “I have one condition… I would like for motorway tolls to be reduced in compensation.”

The environmentalist said: “We know that motorway companies make unacceptable returns that have been criticised, by the Cour des Comptes [the supreme body for auditing the use of public funds in France] and European institutions. They are machines for gathering cash from drivers.”

“So lower the speed limit, and then lower the cost of motorway tolls,” he said.


Lower speed limit rejected by 3/4 of French residents

The suggestion of lowering the speed limit in France has proved unpopular with the public. 

A survey by Odoxa-Dentsu, for news sites Franceinfo and Le Figaro, found that 75% of French residents were against the proposal, on the basis that it was “technocratic” and divorced from daily realities for drivers.

Of those surveyed, 63% said it would be difficult to stick to the new limit if it were imposed, despite the benefits for the environment. 

When questioned on Mr Jadot’s idea of reducing both speed limits and motorway toll prices as a compensatory gesture, 47% were in favour. 

While broadly against the idea in practice, 44% agreed that reducing the speed limit would significantly reduce pollution, and 35% thought that it would reduce the number of deaths on the road. 

Despite rejecting the suggestion of reducing motorway speed limits, those surveyed were supportive of other measures put forward by the citizens’ Climate Change Convention. 

There was 82% support for revising the French constitution to include environmental preservation and 74% were in favour of forcing buildings to undergo energy-saving renovations. 

Just over half, 54%, supported the idea of introducing “ecocide” - knowingly causing serious harm to the environment - as a crime.

Read more: What is ‘ecocide’, the new crime proposed for France?

A further 80% supported the idea of putting the measures proposed by the convention to a referendum, something President Emmanuel Macron has indicated he is open to considering.

The online survey questioned 1005 people representative of the French population, aged 18 and over, on June 24 and 25.  

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