PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron promised 15 billion euros of new funding on Monday to speed up the move to a greener economy, a day after the Greens trounced his party and took control of major cities in local elections.
Macron said he would move faster on environment-friendly policymaking and that he was ready to call a referendum on revising the constitution to include climate aims if parliament allowed it.
He was responding to propositions put forward by a Citizens’ Climate Council as the Greens’ sweeping wins in towns and cities put him under pressure to act on the environment.
“The challenge to our climate demands we do more,” Macron told members of the Climate Council in a meeting at the Elysee Palace.
He also backed a proposal for a moratorium on new commercial zones in city outskirts, and said he would consider bringing in a new law against “ecocide”.
The Climate Council defined ecocide as any action causing serious environmental damage and proposed the crime be punishable by jail and a fine of up to 10 million euros ($ 11.27 million).
However, Macron told the council he disagreed with its proposal for a 4% tax on dividends to help finance new greener policies, saying such a levy would discourage investments.
France’s Green party – officially known as Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV) – stunned Macron and France in Sunday’s vote when it won control of large cities including Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg, often in alliance with leftist allies.
It is a junior partner in the winning Socialist-led alliance in Paris and may still emerge victorious in Marseille.
Macron’s ruling party emerged from the vote without a single victory in a big city, an outcome that leaves the president without a local power-base as he eyes a re-election bid in 2022.
Macron set up the Citizens’ Climate Council in the wake of ‘yellow vest’ protests, which erupted over a hike in diesel taxes but morphed into a wider rebellion against the president and his pro-business reform agenda.
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