By Gérard Le Puill
Following the three forums published in l’Humanité on this Thursday, January 21 on the “climate bill” which could be submitted to a referendum, the newspaper adds on page 13 “continue the debate on l’Humanité.fr”. I therefore intend to make my contribution. These three forums are signed by Clément Sénéchal, spokesperson for Greenpeace France; Alma Dufour, Friends of the Earth; by Maxime Combes, from Attac France. They tell a number of truths but also obscure certain realities.
In Le Monde, also dated January 21, four members of the editorial staff signed an article entitled “The long road to the climate referendum”, following the presentation, the day before, in the Council of Ministers, of a “constitutional bill” which must be adopted in the same terms by the National Assembly and the Senate.
The article in Le Monde quotes bits of sentences from various political leaders of the presidential party and the parliamentary right, to the exclusion of any elected representative claiming to be on the left. He specifies that President Macron wishes to introduce in article 1 of the Constitution that “the Republic guarantees the preservation of biodiversity, the environment, and the fight against climate change”. What, according to the signatories of the article in Le Monde, is “a close wording of the proposal of the citizens’ convention, in particular of the term” guarantees “, which according to the Head of State offers strong legal consequences” .
Remember the fuzzy text of COP21
Le Monde then quotes the centrist senator Hervé Marseille according to which “the term” guarantees “does not pass” among members of the senatorial majority. He fears “a judicialization with a whole bunch of associations, individuals, who will seize the Constitutional Council at all costs by saying that each project will harm the environment or biodiversity. What is consensual is the formulation found at the time by Nicolas Hulot “favors”, he adds. Hulot had used this term when he was Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition at the start of the five-year term.
At this point in the debate, we must come back to the text adopted in December 2015 at the COP21 which was held in Paris under the chairmanship of Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs. After long negotiations, this text was adopted by 195 countries. But for that it was necessary to agree on an objective of slowing down global warming limited to + 2 ° C in 2100 compared to the beginning of the 19th century, without however imposing any collective constraint on the signatory countries to achieve this. France wanted this COP to be a diplomatic success 17 months before the 2017 presidential election in which President Hollande still expected to be able to stand. At this December 2015 conference, a climate agreement with binding content could only have been adopted by a tiny minority of countries.
Can we share the effort within the framework of free trade?
In the first column published by “L’Humanité” today, Clément Sénéchal writes that “finally, it is on sharing the effort that the fight against climate change is stumbling today. A sharing of the effort of solidarity as of sobriety that neoliberalism refuses, offering dispensation to the most emitting actors and the best provided financially. However, without social justice, the acceptability of the changes to be made in our lifestyles will remain unstable at best, more probably ineffective, for lack of cohesion ”.
This is true. But this environmental activist hides the fact that France is in Europe in a free trade area which has 27 countries. They trade freely with each other without any customs tariff. Many of these countries obtain competitive advantages through social, fiscal and environmental dumping. This situation existed before the Paris climate conference and has continued since. As if that were not enough, the 27 continue to mandate the European Commission to negotiate free trade agreements with third countries and each of these agreements produces negative consequences for the climate and biodiversity. We can see it with the acceleration of deforestation in the Amazon since the signing of the free trade agreement between the Commission and the Mercosur countries in June 2019!
On behalf of Friends of the Earth, Alma Dufour writes in “L’Humanité” on January 21: “Among the high-impact measures evacuated: the taxation of chemical fertilizers, which are responsible for emissions from the agricultural sector. The government of Emmanuel Macron proposes to postpone the measure of the Citizens’ Convention to 2024, once the five-year term has ended ”. Here again, if France were to decide on its own to heavily tax chemical fertilizers after having included the word “guarantees” in the Constitution in the name of the preservation of the climate and biodiversity, only French peasants would suffer a competitive handicap via a drop in prices. agricultural yields against their competitors in an economic system practicing free trade.
And multinational firms are relaunching relocations
At the conclusion of his forum denouncing abundantly the lobbies of finance and industry, Maxime Combes, spokesperson for Attac writes this: “in climatic matters, one could not be satisfied with being a little better than the neighbor: in a class of dunces, even the best of students – a status that France claims on a worldwide scale remains a dunce ”.
This is also true. But France emits around 1% of greenhouse gas emissions for around 1% of the world’s population. By placing the word “guarantees” in article 1 of its Constitution, it would above all give itself the illusion of acting for the good of the planet. Because at the start of the second year marked by the coronavirus pandemic which has considerably weakened the country’s economy, we are already seeing that the multinational firms present in France are increasing the measures taken to eliminate thousands of jobs on the national territory by transferring from new activities in countries with low labor costs. This is also shown by the report in “L’Humanité” of this January 21 reporting on the trip of the national secretary of the PCF Fabien Roussel in Seine-Maritime two days earlier in the company of deputy Hubert Wulfranc and senator Céline Brulin .
It is therefore not enough to include the word “guarantees” in Article 1 of the French Constitution for the whole world to be in line with the quantified objectives adopted by the COP21 in December 2015.