The French citizens’ organization for the climate explained

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President Macron’s recent pledge to hold a referendum on climate change comes from an idea put forward by the Citizen’s Climate Convention, a body of members of the public chosen at random.
The group wants to see an amendment to article 1 of the French Constitution to guarantee the preservation of biodiversity, the environment and the fight against climate change.

He also proposed other ideas for tackling climate change as part of the so-called climate law, which will be debated in Parliament and the Senate this month, along with the referendum proposal.

The Citizen’s Climate Convention was created by the President in 2019

It was an unprecedented attempt to give the public a chance to present and discuss proposals that could eventually become law.

Mr Macron introduced it to appease criticism following the yellow vests movement that political leaders ignored what the public had to say. Market research firm Harris Interactive Institute selected participants by contacting approximately 255,000 people over the course of a month.

Among the list of people wishing to participate, 150 were chosen to constitute a panel representative of the population according to sex, age, level of education, socio-professional categories, living environment and geographic location.

Their first meeting was held in early October 2019 and they had a total of seven three-day sessions until last June.

Their mission was to come up with ideas for achieving a reduction of at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990) in “a spirit of social justice”.

The government has said it will respond publicly to any proposals and publish an interim implementation schedule.

In June 2020, the group had proposed 150 ideas.

President Macron has promised to examine 146 of the proposals “without any filtration”.

He later qualified this to mean that he would thoroughly review each of the proposals, but it would be the role of government and Parliament to make a final decision on legislative changes.

The proposals were divided into five groups: accommodation, food, transport, purchasing and manufacturing / labor.

Among the ideas proposed: encourage people to eat less meat by introducing a daily vegetarian option in all self-service canteens; any product sold in France must be accompanied by an offer of repair services; no more oil-fired central heating in new and renovated buildings after 2030; reduction of the speed limit on the motorway to 110 km / h; and the addition of carbon score labeling to all products and services.

In early December, the government presented the main points of its new climate bill, which took into account around 40% of the ideas of the convention, with others to be decided. Many participants were disappointed, saying they felt their efforts had been a waste of time.

They felt even more insulted when the president, in an interview with online media Brut, said: “I have 150 citizens and I respect them, but that does not mean that what they are proposing should be considered a gospel. ”

Macron criticized for his “hollow intervention”

Days later, Mr Macron met with the group and said he would take up their idea of ​​a referendum, if accepted by the Senate and MPs.

He said: “The incorporation of these measures into the Constitution is a recognition that there is a climate emergency.”

Greenpeace France said his words were a “hollow intervention” and that he “remained deaf” to the arguments of citizens.

A professor of constitutional law at the University of Lille, Jean-Philippe Derosier, said the referendum was unlikely to be approved because the Senate does not have a pro-Macron majority.

He thought it was a political coup because there is already an environmental charter in the Constitution.

Mr Macron said he would ensure other proposals are considered, such as giving vouchers to low-income households to help them buy organic and local foods.

He was less certain of the suggestion that all households should be forced to do eco-friendly renovations, saying “we haven’t finished talking about this.”

Not all of the Convention’s suggestions will become laws, and many can be changed from the original versions, but its existence means that ideas coming from the public will have the chance to be discussed in Parliament.

At the end of the final report of the Convention, the body stated: “[We] encourage the holding of new citizens’ conventions on fundamental subjects of French society, to ensure that citizens are heard and involved in decisions.

“The participation of citizens in political decisions should not be seen as an obstacle but as a democratic force.”

Our main image was drawn for Connexion by artist Perry Taylor. For more details on his work, see www.perrytaylor.fr

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