Green issues have taken a back seat in the presidential campaign so far but six of the eleven candidates see it as a way to improve French people’s lives while also creating much-needed jobs at little cost.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron and right-winger François Fillon see protecting the environment as part of the economic future of the country but while Mr Macron firmly rejects using shale gas as a cheap energy source to help do so, Mr Fillon – the prime minister who banned the use of hydraulic fracturation to exploit shale gas resources – said he wants to “rewrite the principle of precaution to encourage responsible innovation”.
Front National’s Marine Le Pen follows Mr Fillon on shale gas but says exploitation can only happen if environmental, safety and health issues are resolved. Ms Le Pen, however, firmly backs nuclear power to maintain France’s energy independence – while attacking wind farms as a blot on the landscape.
Hard left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon says thinking of the environment can help resolve some of society’s problems while also creating jobs but he firmly opposes nuclear power and any idea it offers energy independence, citing uranium imports plus the difficulties of waste disposal… and safety.
He would nationalise EDF and Engie and he, too, is against shale gas. Like other Left-wingers Benoît Hamon and Philippe Poutou, he wants to end France’s dependence on nuclear power, with 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Mr Mélenchon and Mr Hamon want to write environmental principles into the constitution, while Mr Mélenchon would stop the production of diesel vehicles.
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Minority candidate Jean Lassalle also calls for an exit from nuclear power – with the development of more renewables – but also targeted the tax benefits of diesel and the import of products that were environmentally unsound.
Doubling France’s wind and solar capacity by 2022 is a key aim of Mr Macron who also says he would close all coal-powered energy stations within five years. He also proposes to increase the carbon tax to €100 per tonne of CO2 in 2030, and to make implementation of the Paris Agreement a priority of his international agenda.
Mr Fillon would not cut nuclear production and wants to see the lifetime of existing nuclear plants extended. He aims to eliminate the production of electricity from fossil fuels as soon as possible.
He would combat climate change with market mechanisms, including setting up a carbon floor price mechanism in Europe, and would support renewable energy with a tax credit, and by encouraging private investment in renewables.
Ms Le Pen has called for “intelligent protectionism” and “economic patriotism” to develop renewables including solar and biogas wants to support R&D into a French hydrogen industry in order to reduce dependence on oil.