The Eiffel Tower stands as residential and commercial properties sit on the city skyline in Paris, France. (Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg)

French Petition Calling for Climate Action Nears 2 Million Signers

(Bloomberg) -- The French government of President Emmanuel Macron, which is trying to calm a revolt initially caused by its taxes on carbon, is now facing a separate complaint that it’s not doing enough to combat climate change.

A petition calling for legal action against the French state for its supposed failure to act against global warming had reached 1.81 million signatures as of Thursday, close to the 2-million goal set by the associations that launched the initiative on Dec. 17.

Energy Minister Francois de Rugy said he’s “pleasantly surprised” by the show of support for climate measures, but added in an interview in newspaper Le Parisien on Wednesday that “it’s not up to judges to force the government to adopt a law.”

The online petition was organized by four associations, including the French branches of Greenpeace and Oxfam.

General Anger

The number of signatures has exceeded the 1.17 million that have signed a petition posted in May calling for lower gasoline prices, and specifically for a repeal of carbon taxes imposed by Macron’s government. That petition was one of the sparks for the so-called “Yellow Vests” protests, which started in early November with road blockages across France, with the initial demand for lower prices at the pump expanding into general anger about the rising cost of living and Macron’s governing style.

While the Yellow Vests movement has subsided, it did force Macron to cancel further carbon taxes planned for next year, as well as to promise other tax cuts and welfare payments. The higher gasoline taxes were intended to subsidize purchases of cleaner cars and home heating systems, and the government now has to find other resources to fund those programs.

While the more recent petition calling for climate action doesn’t explicitly mention the Yellow Vests, it does say any measures must “guarantee social justice.”

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