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AFP
May 10, 2021

Macron’s climate referendum in doubt

AFP
May 10, 2021

Paris: President Emmanuel Macron’s promise to enshrine the fight against climate change in the French constitution via a referendum was in doubt on Sunday as senators appeared poised to torpedo the plan.

The initiative to state in the constitution that France "guarantees environmental protection and biological diversity, and combats climate change" originated in a citizen’s body set up by Macron last year.

Seeking the upper hand in what could be a key issue in next year’s election, the president promised a referendum on the bill if it gained approval in both houses of parliament.

The National Assembly, where Macron has a majority, overwhelmingly voted in favour of the revision in March. But on Monday, the bill goes to the Senate, where the right-wing Republicans hold sway.

They have already decided "to empty the bill of its substance", Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, a National Assembly deputy for Macron’s LREM party, charged on Sunday. He warned in the JDD weekly that changes "will prevent the agreement," as under French law a referendum can go ahead only if it is approved in identical wording by both houses of parliament.

"As things stand, there can’t be a referendum," National Assembly speaker Richard Ferrand acknowledged Sunday. A majority in the Senate, he said, was "more conservative" concerning environmental questions.