[Article updated on November 7 at 16:50 with further details on the study.]
More than two thirds (68%) of people in France would "accept" a reduction of motorway speed limits from 130km/h to 110km/h for environmental reasons, according to a new survey.
This comes after several famous figures from French life signed an open letter in the Journal du Dimanche calling for the government to take such a measure in order to promote a more economic use of fuel and a less polluting way of driving.
The government has previously put the idea to one side several times, the most recent occasion being two years ago, when President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to avoid the plan becoming “embroiled in controversy” and meeting the same resistance as the 80km/h speed limit on departmental roads.
However, with fuel prices increasing and the effects of climate change beginning to manifest themselves more and more acutely, the debate has resurfaced.
Driving at 110km/h on the motorway as opposed to 130km/h would, according to the Convention citoyenne pour le climat, reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption by 20%.
The signatories of the Journal du Dimanche open letter have created a website called Les 110.org to encourage people to get involved with the movement.
Drivers can add their names to a list and commit to not exceeding 110km/h until the end of the year, to raise awareness of the idea.
They will be able to download a sticker reading: ‘Je roule à 110km/h sur autoroute pour la planète’ (I drive at 110km/h on the motorway for the planet), and attach it to their rear window.
Those behind the 110km/h movement have claimed that travelling at this speed means: “lengthening your journey by a few minutes in the worst case scenario – between eight and nine minutes per hour.”
Private cars create 12% of the emissions released within the European Union and 16% of those released in France.
Jeanne Kuhn of the environmental organisation Greenly has said that if everyone in France drove at 110km/h, two million tonnes of CO2 would be saved, equating to the emissions released by 200,000 French drivers over a year.
The survey was carried out by Elabe for Le Parisien (subscriber article). It asked if people in France would find it "acceptable" if the motorway speed limit was reduced from 130km/h to 110km/h for environmental reasons.