Will the Climate Agenda Unravel?
Despite widespread worries about global warming, more immediate economic concerns risk relegating climate policy to the fringes of political debate. This situation raises three fundamental questions for governments.
PARIS – In a recent survey, 52% of French citizens cited their purchasing power as a major concern. Only 29% mentioned the environment, putting this issue roughly on a par with the health system (30%) and immigration (28%). Given this background, it is no surprise that the transition to a climate-neutral economy does not feature prominently in the current French presidential election campaign.
With the start of the war in Ukraine, the French may – for once – discuss foreign affairs and security in the run-up to the vote. But, despite widespread worries about climate change, more immediate economic concerns risk relegating climate policy to the fringes of the political debate.
That is unfortunate, because France, along with the rest of the European Union, has committed to nearly halving its greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 – a threefold increase in the speed of emissions reduction compared to the last decade. Whether France meets this extraordinarily demanding target will depend on actions taken on the winning presidential candidate’s watch. Even approaching the goal will require an accelerated transformation affecting all sectors and every aspect of economic and social life.