An Ecological "New Deal": France's New Energy and Environmental Policy

By Sarkozy, Nicolas | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, January 15, 2008 | Go to article overview
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An Ecological "New Deal": France's New Energy and Environmental Policy

Sarkozy, Nicolas, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly

The Grenelle Environment Forum will remain a milestone in our societyxs growing awareness that it cannot continue to live wastefully and that it can no longer ignore the impact of our current lifestyles, production methods and consumption patterns on the future of the planet.

It is indeed a revolution that the Grenelle Environment Forum is calling for - a revolution in the way we think and the way we take decisions; a revolution in our behaviour, in our policies, in our objectives and in our criteria.

I salute former Vice-President Al Gore and Mrs Wangari Maathai, who epitomize this revolution. They called for it before anyone else did, they announced that it was necessary before everyone else, and they did not hesitate to challenge preconceived ideas and attack traditional attitudes. They have taught us to take the long view and break free of short-term thinking. They have reminded us of our responsibilities. They have forced us to ask ourselves what kind of world we will be leaving to our children. And they have made us understand that we have exceeded the limits of what our planet can withstand.

France has no reason to be ashamed of what she has done so far. Our per-capita greenhouse gas emissions are 21% below the European average and even 30 to 40% below those of our large neighbours. But this is not enough. France is the second-largest European producer of renewable energies.

France has not fallen behind. But France now wants to be in the lead. And this is what has prompted the changes that we are proposing in France. Our ambition is not to be as mediocre as others in our objectives. It is not to be average. Our ambition is to be in the vanguard and to set an example. At the United Nations, France called for a worldwide economic and ecological New Deal. France cannot hope that her appeal will be heard if she doesnxt apply the strongest measures to herself. How can you set an example if you cannot comply yourself with the rules that you are asking others to adopt?

This is the spirit in which I called for the Grenelle Environment Forum. Grenelle stands for shared discussion and shared proposals. Grenelle is a success. It is a success that we owe to environmental non-governmental organizations, which proved equal to taking on this unusual role. I am convinced that if we had said to a number of them, "soon you will be working with such and such"... It was not a foregone conclusion!

This is a success that we owe to trade union organizations, which proved equal to addressing this issue - a new one, I realize, for a number of them. It is a success that we owe to the agricultural sector, which had the courage to re-examine its long-held positions. It is a success that we owe to companies, which also agreed to take part. It is a success that we owe to elected representatives, who understood what the population is demanding.

And of course, it is a success that we owe to Forum organizers Jean-Louis Borloo, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Dominique Bussereau and to all their teams.

And now that everyone has made it a success, it is up to Prime Minister Francois Fillon and me to take decisions; we must not disappoint .

The Grenelle Environment Forum is an unprecedented event. Compromises were worked out on issues that were previously taboo. As Head of State, I will adopt these proposals, I will support them and I will implement them. I would like this policy to be first and foremost a policy that brings us all together.


We must first have the courage to take decisions differently, to change our methods, to give priority to negotiated decisions rather than decisions handed down by the administration. Let us recognize that the "five-way dialogue" - involving trade unions, business, NGOs, elected representatives and the administration - is an unprecedented success. The Grenelle is not an end in itself but a beginning.

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An Ecological "New Deal": France's New Energy and Environmental Policy


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