Letter calls to release France from petrol dependence

An open letter called for the government to do more to help those affected by rising petrol prices

An open letter from 23 climate lobby associations has called on the French government to “release their citizens from dependence on diesel and petrol”, amid ongoing anger over rising petrol prices.

Associations including Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam and Réseau Action Climat signed the letter, which called for “fast and ambitious measures to finance alternative options to the car, and help for those who do not [currently] have the means to move around in any other way”.

The letter was published in full by French news source FranceInfo.

It accused government ministers of “heightening tensions” in the ongoing row over the rising price of petrol, and denounced the government for not responding adequately to the issue, despite their “claiming that fighting pollution was a key priority”.

“Environmental taxes” are an “indispensable tool”, the letter read, “to respond to the climate crisis that we currently facing”, but that any price changes or similar should be introduced alongside further “concrete solutions”.

The letter added: “It is irresponsible to weaponise environmental taxes, especially when the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) recently reminded us that without unprecedented extra effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we will not be able to prevent the impact of climate change and air pollution, which causes over 48,000 premature deaths in our country.”

The letter writers accused the government of worsening the current situation, “because it has taken too long to put in place sufficiently ambitious measures to pay for alternative [forms of transport] to cars, and help those who have no other way to get around”.

The government is responsible, it said, “because the taxes that are hitting French people do not include the most polluting sectors or areas that emit the most greenhouse gases, such as the airline or goods transport industries.”

It said: “Following the example of previous governments, the current administration is leading a transport policy that is not coherent with the climate emergency, nor socially fair.”

The government should refocus the debate on [adequate] responses to the current social and climate crises, the letter continued.

French people were “vulnerable to petrol prices” because of this, the letter said. Public transport requires significant work and development, the letter said, including an increase of affordable trains running in remote areas.

Urban sprawl should be limited, it said, to narrow the distance between people’s places of work and their homes, and it should be made easier and safer for people to commute by pushbike.

Similarly, funds should be directed to improve the development and affordability of electric vehicles, it said, in its bid to offer solutions to what it called the nation’s “petrol dependency”.

The letter said that the Réseau Action Climat had proposed these ideas for “many years” already, and said that a responsible environmental policy should consider and develop them.

“We call on policymakers from all sides to defend these ideas, and on the government to hear them. They are the ones who can bring a constructive help to the current crises, and avoid environmental policy from being derailed for bad reasons.”

The open letter comes amid furore over rising petrol prices, which has prompted significant protest blockade plans across the country in recent weeks (with strong public support), and a statement from President Emmanuel Macron on how to cover soaring costs.

The government has said that rising prices are due to the rising global cost of oil.


The full list of signatories:

The Réseau Action Climat and its associated members (350.org ; Agir pour l'Environnement; Alofa Tuvalu; Alternatiba; CLER – Réseau Pour la Transition Énergétique; CCFD-Terre Solidaire; 4D; FUB; Fnaut; Fondation Pour la Nature et l'Homme; France Nature Environnement; Greenpeace France; Hespul; Les Amis de la Terre; Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux; Oxfam France; REFEDD; Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire; Secours Catholique-Caritas France; WECF; WWF France; Zero Waste France.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

More articles from French news
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you