France closes oldest reactor amid Macron’s climate commitments


France’s oldest nuclear power plant was finally closed on Tuesday June 30 – after four decades of operation and a long campaign of anti-nuclear activists.

The process for removing fuel from the reactors at the Fessenheim plant, which was connected to the grid in 1977, is expected to be completed by 2023 – although the plant is not expected to be fully decommissioned until 2040.

After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, French President François Hollande has committed to shutting down the Fessenheim plant, after complaints about the security of the German and Swiss governments.

However, his successor Emmanuel Macron did not give the green light to the closure until 2017.

A group of nuclear supporters, meanwhile, demonstrated Monday against the closure of Fessenheim at Greenpeace headquarters in Paris.

According to the French Nuclear Energy Society (SFEN), this shutdown will lead to more fossil fuel solutions and additional emissions of around 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

However, France also aims to reduce emissions from its electricity supply by shutting down its last four coal-fired power plants by 2024 and by investing in renewable energy.

Without Fessenheim, France will still have 56 pressurized water reactors in 18 nuclear power plants.

In 2012, Hollande pledged to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear power to 50% – instead of 75% – of all electricity, and Macron promised to meet this goal when elected.

However, Macron’s energy and climate bill in May postponed Hollande’s ambitious goal until 2035.

Although the bill has made carbon neutrality by 2050 the main goal of national action on climate and energy – aligning its national ambition with the European Green Deal.

Macron: 15 billion euros and 146 new proposals

Meanwhile, Macron promised this week (June 29) to accelerate France’s transition to a greener economy responding to the proposals of the French Citizens’ Climate Convention – one day after a “green wave” saw municipal election victories across the country for Les Vertes (the Greens).

“The challenge of our climate demands that we do more,” Macron told members of the climate convention during a meeting at the Elysee Palace.

The Citizen’s Climate Convention is Macron’s assembly experience of last year’s French gathering of 150 citizens at random to formulate ideas for reducing national greenhouse gas emissions.

Macron said he had accepted all but three of the 149 recommendations put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly.

Macron rejected the idea of ​​imposing a 4% dividend tax on investments to help finance climate and energy policies as well as the introduction of a speed limit of 110 km / h on French roads.

First referendum in 15 years?

However, the president announced an additional 15 billion euros to fight climate change over the next two years and declared himself ready to call a referendum on the revision of the French constitution to include climate targets. – if the parliament allows it.

Likewise, Macron also supported a referendum to make “ecocide” a crime – referring to any activity that causes serious damage to the environment.

The last time the French were called to a referendum was in 2005 when they, like the Dutch, rejected a constitution for the European Union.

The Green Party of France and its left allies made significant gains in Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Besançon in the second round of local elections on Sunday.


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