Macron Will Still Push for Environmental Protection Referendum

French President Emmanuel Macron says he’s pushing ahead with a plan for a referendum on including a reference to environmental protection in the constitution -- although there’s little chance it could go through before the end of his mandate.

“There will be no abandonment; this legislation will go through the parliamentary process,” he said in Strasbourg on the sideline of a conference about the future of the European Union. He made the comments Sunday, when marches to fight climate change were held throughout the country.

Macron Will Still Push for Environmental Protection Referendum

Earlier, French newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Macron’s office had given up on the plan for now because of opposition in the Senate.

A referendum could be a risky political gamble for Macron ahead of the 2022 presidential election. He is facing criticism from opponents and green activists for what they describe as a lack of ambition in his environmental protection policies, despite a repeated pledged to “make the planet great again” when Donald Trump was the U.S. president.

A change in the constitution must be adopted by both houses of Parliament before a referendum could be held. Senators opposing the plan have said it could create legal risks for businesses. The government spokesman has accused right-of-center political forces in the Senate of blocking the project, which started as a symbolic promise by Macron to a committee of citizens he created to propose measures to fight climate change.

Bruno Retailleau, the leader of Republican Senators, said the government is using their opposition as an excuse for not keeping its promises on the plan.

“Emmanuel Macron is accusing us of blockage to justify the cancellation of a referendum he didn’t want in the first place,” he tweeted after the Journal du Dimanche report.

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