Why Marine Le Pen’s environmental agenda is greenwashing

The Shift Project is a French think tank advocating for the shift to a post-carbon economy. As a non-profit association committed to scientific objectivity, it is dedicated to informing and influencing the debate on the energy transition in Europe. Here, European Affairs Coordinator Laurent Hubert analyzes the environmental agenda of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

A few days before the last round of the presidential election in France, the two finalists, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macrondo you have any proposals that adequately address and combat the climate crisis?

This is the question we all ask ourselves. And, in short, the answer is no.

So let’s focus on far-right candidate Le Pen and analyze if there is substance behind her green promises.

As climate concerns grow in importance on the French political scene, Le Pen has had to strengthen his ecological agenda – compared to his position in 2012 and 2017.

She claims to support climate neutrality by 2050 in France. But there are a host of gaps, inconsistencies and key measures missing from his agenda, which fails to deliver a credible and achievable national framework. decarbonization strategy.

What is Marine Le Pen’s view of energy?

Le Pen’s key proposal for climate and energy relies on increasing the production of low carbon electricitywhich aims to reach 940 TWh by 2050. So, simply put, that’s 65% more than today.

nuclear power is the cornerstone of this strategy.

It all depends on the launch of five pairs of nuclear reactors (European Pressurized Reactors or EPRs) from 2031 and five more by 2036, which would bring the lifetime of nuclear power plants to 60 years.

Although carbon-free electricity from nuclear energy is an asset for the French electricity mix, Le Pen’s plan reveals two glaring shortcomings.

First, it does not take into account the short-term actions needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to energy production, such as decarbonizing the current electricity mix.

Worse, it actively discourages renewable energy development. She wants to prevent the wind energy sector from progressing further by reducing any public support for it – and even dismantling existing wind turbines in the process. The big players in renewables (EDF, GIFEN, SFEN, CEA) have publicly stated that if Le Pen becomes president, industrial capacities will be extremely limited by 2050.

When it comes to any sort of industrial strategy or how to deal with skilled workers in the energy field, she doesn’t even mention it and that’s a glaring flaw that we all need to see.

Beyond electricity, Le Pen also calls for a “the hydrogen revolution” for sectors experiencing electrification difficulties. But it fails to explain its feasibility in terms of infrastructure, industrial roadmap, jobs and skills, research or innovation.

At the same time, his plan to lower taxes on fossil fuels, considered a “social aberration”, could cause an increase in fuel consumption. It would be dangerous because it would be in direct contradiction with its decarbonization plan, its plans for wean off russian oil and its supposed gas consumption reduction targets.

Does Le Pen have a plan for greener industry and buildings?

Le Pen plans to “relocate” French industry and double its share of GDP from today – up to 20% by 2050. She says this is in order to reduce “imported emissions” from France and its dependence on foreign economies.

Thus, industrial processes would be decarbonized thanks to the development of the hydrogen sector. But at the same time, a plan for the massive renovation of buildings is proposed, favoring the installation of heat pumps, “subject to the creation of a French sector”.

Although these measures can have a positive impact on France’s global carbon footprint, Le Pen’s program fails to clarify what the strategy is. It does not set any targets or provide an impact assessment to achieve such ambitious goals – so it just seems like hot air.

What about his plan for the transport sector?

Transportation accounts for 31% of France’s total emissions, so it is an important sector to address as part of a presidential environmental program.

Le Pen wants to preserve the use of the individual car in mobility. It intends to “slow down” the substitution of fossil fuel cars by their electric counterparts, by developing hybrids and biofuelsas well as hydrogen vehicles.

However, authorizing hybrid vehicles without mentioning a time limit seems incompatible with the exit from fossil fuels, unless a substantial territory is dedicated to the production of biofuels.

And in the absence of targets for reducing car use, vehicle size and fleet size or developing adequate capacities for the production of decarbonated hydrogen – used for industry, the aviation and road freight – this seems extremely ambitious.

Le Pen mentioned that she wants to make “everyday trains” a priority but, there again, without explaining the idea (except when it comes to young people, who would benefit from free travel during off-peak hours). At the same time, it is favorable to the reduction of road charges, which is contrary to the objective of a switch to rail… so it is very confusing.

Does its environmental program measure up?

Le Pen’s program is greener than ever. Nevertheless, beyond buzzwordsits proposals provide no concrete strategy for achieving the policies and give no emission reduction targets – or public governance to oversee the process.

Many crucial elements for the green transition are not sufficiently taken into account, such as land use (the forest and the sea are mentioned as “high national priorities” without objective or roadmap), Waste Managementcircular economy or raw material supply chain for low and zero emission technologies.

And more worryingly, important aspects of the economy are not mentioned at all, such as the emissions from agriculture or education and training for the jobs of tomorrow, as well as the question of improving the skills of workers.

Finally, while Le Pen bets on disruptive technologies for a sustainable and resource-efficient economy, she never refers to existing processes that already reduce emissions. For example, energy saving and energy efficiency policies.

Thus, two points appear clear. Although Le Pen’s environmental program is “greener” than previous ones, if elected, it will fail.

It will not be able to meet France’s climate objectives under the Paris Agreement.

As for Macron’s green agenda, it is certainly preferable, although largely insufficient. Now the question is, what will happen to the climate if Le Pen comes to power? The future looks bleak from the start.

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