France’s President Calls For a Referendum on Climate Change

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants a national vote over proposals to respond to climate change.

“A referendum on some of those measures would enable everyone to take part in the issue,” Macron told members of an advisory council Friday.

The meeting in Paris was Macron’s first encounter with a group of 150 voters selected at random who have been working in concert with climate change experts, economists and diplomats to come up with recommendations on policies to reduce France’s carbon emissions.

Recent natural disasters including massive wildfires in Australia and Brazil are increasing the pressure for governments worldwide to take bolder action on reducing carbon emissions linked to warming temperatures. At the same time, Macron faced virulent opposition to previous efforts on the issue including a higher fuel tax.

“People want more democracy. They don’t just want to follow the laws, but to participate,” Macron said. The potential referendum on climate policy wouldn’t necessarily be legally binding, he added, but would add pressure for the National Assembly to adopt new laws.

The move to involve a broad range of French people in setting the country’s climate policy comes as Macron fights off criticism of his presidential style as distant and elite. Last year, Macron attempted to calm Yellow Vest protesters who were calling for him to resign by holding town hall meetings across the country in a “Grand National Debate.”

Tensions are flaring again as his plan to overhaul France’s retirement system sparked strikes that have dragged on for more than a month.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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