The government will put energy and public finances into a greener future. On the eve of the National Council of Ecological Planning at the Élysée, Emmanuel Macron sketched, during a major television interview Sunday, September 24 on TF1 and France 2, the contours of the method of the State to promote the ecological transition. With one goal in mind: to go "twice as fast" to meet commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But also with a substantial budget: 40 billion euros to invest "in all sectors".
On ecology, "we're halfway there. Because we have reduced our CO2 emissions twice as fast in the last five years, insisted the head of state. But we will have to speed up the process. The executive first recorded the definitive phase-out, by 2027, of the use of coal to produce electricity. "This is the only right path and we will be the first European country to abandon this fossil energy," insisted the President of the Republic.
End of coal: "He makes it look like a breakthrough when it is an admission of failure"
But the deadline did not convince everyone. "This is a disappointing announcement because this abandonment had been promised for 2022 and it makes it look like a step forward while it is an admission of failure," said Nicolas Nace, Ecological Transition Campaigner at Greenpeace France.
To materialize this renunciation of coal, the president announced the conversion of the last French coal-fired power plants — Cordemais (Loire-Atlantique) and Saint-Avold (Moselle) — to a combustion mode using biomass. "We will use instead of charcoal the recycling of our farmers and forests," he said.
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"We must pay attention to the origin of the wood that will feed them, in particular by avoiding taking forests already suffering in France and avoiding deforestation in other countries to obtain supplies," warns the representative of the environmental NGO. "There is a logistics to put in place to supply the plants continuously because, until now, existing projects imported wood," confirms Olivier Appert, advisor to the Energy-Climate Center of the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri). While praising this reorientation: "Plants of this type have the advantage of being controllable and being mobilizable as soon as the electricity networks require it, unlike renewable energies that depend on external elements," says the expert.
The Élysée also wants to encourage the French to give up their thermal "car" for an electric vehicle. This will go through a new bonus/malus system. But, above all, by the finalization of a "leasing" project (rental with option to buy) with a rent of 100 euros per month that would favor electric cars manufactured in Europe.
Gas boilers still allowed
The president also said he had given up banning heaters deemed more polluting. "We will not prohibit" the installation of new gas boilers, "because we cannot leave our compatriots, especially in the most rural areas, without a solution," Macron said.
But the head of state also wants to "support households to equip themselves with heat pumps, because heat pumps are smart, they save energy and they greatly reduce emissions". He unveiled an ambitious plan that would triple the production of these heating systems in France.
"It's interesting because we are going to move away from a logic of subsidizing offers on the market, half of which are foreign, towards an industrial policy and job creation," says Olivier Appert. "The electric car and heat pumps are two important tools for the ecological transition but it has been limited to a form of techno-solutionism, not to mention thermal sieves, alternative transport or energy renovation," deplores Greenpeace France.
To set an example, Emmanuel Macron pointed out, however, that the Elysée Palace had reduced its ecological footprint by 80% by using geothermal energy.