French PM and Minister Segolène Royal at the National Council for Ecological Transition
4 February 2015

The ecological transition: "This is a profound transformation of our ways of life, and the French people are becoming increasingly aware of this"

On Wednesday 4 February, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Ecology presented the roadmap from the 3rd environmental conference to the National Council for Ecological Transition. The main announcements include: the withdrawal of export subsidies for coal-fired power plant projects, the introduction of a green sticker, and as of April 2015, the implementation of an aid of up to €10,000 for the replacement of diesel vehicles.
 
"Together with the Minister for Ecology, Ségolène Royal, and all the stakeholders present - local authorities, businesses, trade union organisations, environmental associations, NGOs, experts, MPs, we have reaffirmed a shared ambition: to build the French environmental model", Manuel Valls declared at a press conference following the meeting of the National Council for Ecological Transition. A model which must not only get the whole country on board but also "spread throughout Europe and the world". A few months ahead of the COP21, which will be held in Paris in December, France "must set an example".
 
"There is no time to lose, action is needed quickly and it is this generation's responsibility to prepare a different world for the generations to come. So we must act now", Manuel Valls declared. Yes, we need to act, but methodically: in this field, dialogue and consultation are needed now more than ever. "All of the decisions announced today (...) have thus been thought out, well-reasoned, and constructed taking into account the positions of all parties. This is essential. It is also exceptional in our French society, and yet it is the only way to move forward together."

The 3rd roadmap presented on Wednesday 4 February includes 74 measures divided into three main areas: the 2015 Paris Climate Conference – COP21; sustainable transportation and mobility; health and the environment. They are supplemented by the National ecological transition strategy towards sustainable development and the Exemplary Administration Plan led by Ségolène Royal.
 

Moving away from the "all diesel" mindset

 
Combating air pollution is a priority for the Government. In order to move away from the "all diesel" mindset, a conversion premium for old diesel vehicles will be put in place as of 1 April: this will amount to €500, subject to resources, for the replacement of an old diesel vehicle with a new or used Euro class 6 vehicle, and up to €3,700 for the purchase of an electric vehicle, thus bringing the total amount of aid to €10,000. "This measure is an important step", Manuel Valls emphasised.

Ségolène Royal also announced that air quality certificates will be introduced before the summer in order to identify clean vehicles. They will allow these vehicles to benefit from preferential parking and traffic conditions and allow them to enter restricted traffic zones.

Protecting the environment and health also involves reducing the use of pesticides and developing alternatives. This is the aim of the agroecology project led by Stéphane Le Foll. The Prime Minister has announced that a study on the impact of pesticides in the country will be launched in the coming weeks.
 

Investing in sustainable transportation


As Manual Valls recalled, "Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions and represents almost one third of our energy consumption, not to mention the pollution it generates in our large cities." We need to reinvent more environmentally-friendly modes of public transportation, both at national level and local level for daily transportation. The Prime Minister has announced that more than €7 billion will be invested in this mobility out of the €12 billion for the next generation of State-region planning contracts.
 

Strengthening France's international action against climate change


The last component of the 3rd roadmap, preparation for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), will be a major challenge. "France will do everything to reach an agreement in December in Paris. This agreement must of course be as ambitious as possible", Manuel Valls explained.
 
With this in mind, we need to demonstrate that the country organising the COP21 is also able to make decisions in line with the aims of the Climate meeting. France will thus withdraw the export credit insurance for coal-fired power stations with no CO2 storage, as already announced by the President of the Republic. Ségolène Royal will shortly present a concrete timetable for withdrawal which will take into account the situation of companies while ensuring that the ambition set by the Head of State is achieved. Likewise, green taxation is a very effective instrument in combating CO2 emissions by taxing pollution more and production less. The Environmental Tax Commission, re-launched by Ségolène Royal who has given it a new lease of life by expanding its scope, will resume its work in a few weeks' time.
 
Education to the environment and sustainable development
In view of the COP21, the Government is pursuing its policy to integrate education to sustainable development into school programmes. Educational projects concerning the issues related to the energy transition and the fight against climate change will be implemented in schools, general, technical and professional secondary schools and colleges, centres for part-time training and apprentice training centres.

Teachers and students at secondary schools/colleges will conduct educational simulations of climate change negotiations so as to encourage the awareness and involvement of young people in the fight against climate change.

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