French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced a "French environmental plan" aimed at reducing reliance on coal and fossil fuels. The plan includes phasing out coal by 2027 and decreasing the use of fossil fuels in France's energy mix from 60% to 40% by 2030. However, with only about 2.5% of its electricity coming from coal-fired plants, the impact on greening the grid is limited.
In addition to the coal phase-out, Macron's plan involves manufacturing one million electric vehicles in France by 2027 and producing one million heat pumps for home heating. There is also a focus on expanding offshore wind energy in the Atlantic. However, the current onshore wind capacity in France is not sufficient to meet the country's clean energy goals.
Macron's plan also includes the construction of 12 new mass transit rail lines and offering electric car leases for €100 per month. Furthermore, the president is pledging government price controls on electricity bills. Despite these initiatives, French environmentalists argue that the goals are not ambitious enough.
Critics point out that one million electric vehicles would only represent 2.5% of France's 39 million automobiles, while one million heat pumps would cover a mere 3% of the 31 million households in the country. Yannick Jadot, an environmentalist and member of the European Parliament, criticized Macron for not taking immediate action to address the climate crisis.
Macron's plan has also faced criticism for prioritizing short-term convenience for industry and agriculture over stopping global warming. The gradual approach would take decades to achieve significant progress, while other countries, such as Germany, have shown more ambition in transitioning to low-carbon energy sources.
In comparison, President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act in the United States allocates $369 billion for green energy transition, demonstrating greater commitment than Macron's center-right coalition. Germany is set to have a 50% no-carbon or low-carbon energy mix by 2023, while France aims to reach that target by 2027.
This discrepancy in green energy efforts has come as a surprise to some, as the French had historically been viewed as technologists and visionaries in this field. However, French politics now appears focused on center-right and far-right ideologies, with less emphasis on addressing the climate crisis.
Macron's plan, while commendable, lacks the ambition and urgency needed to effectively combat climate change.