How One Small Step for France is a Giant Leap for Mankind

Following United States President Joe Biden’s recommitment to the Paris Climate Accords, French President Emmanuel Macron has renewed his commitment to solve the climate crisis—and it has a $35 billion price tag.

In recent years, France has assumed a leadership role in the global “green” energy conversion to combat rising temperatures and the attendant social effects of the climate crisis. 

However, Macron’s recent efforts had stalled as they faced the prospect of sacrificing a steadily growing economy, deepening rifts amongst developing and lower income portions of the globe, and decidedly “painful” lifestyle changes.

In February 2021, such middling efforts loomed large as the Administrative Tribunal of Paris found France guilty of shirking its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. The indictment was far from unfounded—French greenhouse gas emissions fell by just one percent despite the three percent annual decline the government had aimed for, and was far beneath the 3.7 percent average decline across Europe. Spain, France, Italy, the EU, U.K, and Germany have likewise fallen victim to a decline in efforts to achieve real change in emissions since the end of 2016. This puts forth a question to all Western European countries: will these countries truly commit to ending emissions and reaching carbon neutrality?

On October 12, Macron offered a gesture towards a “yes.” The French president announced a $35 billion dollar investment plan into France’s industrial activity and the development of so-called “innovative technology.” Macron’s goal is to boost France’s economy over the next decade through methods consistent with climate mitigation recommendations. By investing into profitable green technology and infrastructure, Macron hopes to electrify the economy coming off of almost two years of pandemic-era decline. 

Macron’s commitment comes with more detailed investments into particular sectors. Particularly salient is a $4.6 billion dollar investment in developing hybrid and electric powered cars. Another portion of the investment fund will go into developing the world’s first “low carbon plane” by 2030 and reusable rocket launch system by 2026. Accompanying such commitments is the buttressing of present carbon taxes, business tax reductions, and employment incentives for those working in green energy sectors.

Despite the plan’s ambitious commitments, the question remains: is $35 billion dollars a sufficient investment to cover the lack of a collective response from the world as a whole? Macron has made strong efforts moving forward and providing the first steps towards a greener future. Alongside an initial 100 billion euros investment into the “France Relaunch Program,” Macron has continued to pave the way for the rest of his European colleagues. 

Indeed, with such commitments France cements its position as a leader among European nations’ climate efforts. France currently has a smaller carbon footprint than many other global powers; its goals for a carbon neutral 2050 marks a decisive step in transnational investments seeking to achieve nations’ long-expressed climate goals. 

Indeed, the issue of climate change requires a collective response from all nations. The effects of climate change will continue to damage the world unless there is a dramatic change in the attitude and manner that decarbonization and greenhouse gas emissions are tackled. Macron has made one small step, but others must follow suit to catalyze real change.

By: Andrew Chinn