Benoît Hamon, the new leader of the French Socialist Party, has some interesting ideas! I have translated them into English. There may be some errors, so I link the original text to make it easier for you to judge the quality of my translation. Corrections welcomed!
More information: https://www.benoithamon2017.fr/le-projet/
12 Environmental Proposals
Environmental issues are inseparable from social ones.
For several decades, despite the alarm calls of scientists and civic society, and despite a few successes, such as COP21, we continue, in France, to tolerate to a large extent the damage, caused by our behaviour, to our environment, to our health and to our immediate surroundings. We continue to accept the pollution of our seas and our air by toxic industrial waste products, the privatisation of our water, and the poisoning of our food by pesticides. We are all collectively responsible for this inaction, whether the reasons be procrastination, inertia, or complicity with those who want, above all, nothing to change.
We cannot continue to turn a blind eye. It’s our responsibility, we left-wing progressives, to see that this guilty tolerance always benefits the same people: those who will be able to maintain their own comfortable lives despite it all, and who will continue to benefit from our lack of awareness. Above all, it is our duty to acknowledge that the price is too heavy, and that it is too often paid by the most fragile among us.
The inequalities in this area are glaring. Chronic disease, pneumonia, cardiovascular problems: it is the poorest who are most vulnerable to the risks associated with environmental degradation and our lifestyles. More likely to live near sources of pollution, in poorly insulated homes, far from health centres and effective means of prevention, they are the ones who are inhale more airborne particulates and who struggle to afford quality food, free of GMOs and pesticides. Increasing awareness of this should fuel more than memes: it must deeply transform our outlook
It makes no sense for the left to choose between the protection of our planet and social progress. By protecting our fellow citizens from air, water and soil pollution, we protect their immediate environments, their health and the future of their children. This applies to all, but especially to the most disadvantaged. This campaign must be conducted in parallel with one for a new model of development, more temperate and more respectful of humans and the global commons (oceans, biodiversity), more energy- and resource-efficient, and based on a sharing economy.
Here are what I think our priorities should be for accomplishing such a transformation:
Proposal 1: In the six months following the presidential election, launch a major national Ecology-Prevention-Protection-Health conference, which will make France the pioneer and vanguard in this field in Europe.
We cannot solve the environmental issue without a broad citizens’ movement. If we are to succeed in transforming the way we consume and produce, we must all understand the urgency of the need to act, and we must build on the collective intelligence of civil society, researchers and specialists.
As early as 2017, we will launch a major national conference on this issue, which is fundamentally a social and democratic issue. In that same year, we will take the measures necessary to protect the health and environmental circumstances of all.
Thus, we will establish ourselves as pioneers in this field in Europe and, so motivated, we shall drive forward a major European project for social and ecological progress, mobilising European citizens around our common values.
Proposal 2: Go beyond the precautionary principle by constitutionalising common resources (the commons) and developing an environmental democracy.
Water and air are common goods that we must protect, come what may, from any deterioration or risk of capture by private interests. Faced with the market, states should be the guarantors of the protection of natural resources, and citizens must watch over this protection. The constitution must ensure that these principles are respected.
While these fundamental issues are often dealt with behind closed doors under the influence of private lobbies, we must devise a true environmental democracy that will enable citizens to decide together on the use of common goods.
Proposal 3: Launch a wide-ranging energy renovation plan for public and private buildings over a five-year period.
This massive energy renovation plan will reduce the country’s energy dependency, create quality jobs in the building sector affected by the crisis, develop an industrial sector of excellence and, by its contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions, enable the state to fulfil its duty to be a good example, especially in the context of France’s international commitments.
The plan will have three priorities:
- Thermal rehabilitation of social housing on the basis of quantifiable objectives: it will be based on tools such as loans, the budgetary constraints of the ANRU (National Agency for Urban Renovation), conditions applied to building rights, and a premium for virtuous landlords.
- An ambitious plan to support private sector initiatives, conditional on the use of certified artisans (which helps to support the development of the sector and our SMEs).
- Protection of households suffering from fuel poverty: social tariffs are useful, but not a sufficiently ambitious response. We will establish a real “energy” shield to protect the most deprived.
Proposal 4: Implement a rigorous plan to phase out diesel by 2025.
- This phasing out of diesel is essential to protect the quality of the air we breathe. We can no longer tolerate the nearly 50,000 deaths caused by air pollution in our country each year. It is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases and causes more deaths annually than road accidents.
- The end of diesel will see the ending of this fuel’s tax advantage, the installation of electric-car charging points across the road network, as well as a coordinated effort at the European level to invest in research and development to improve electric vehicles’ battery life.
- Moving away from diesel necessitates rethinking mobility. The digitalisation of the economy also offers the opportunity to change the way we travel, through car-pooling or car-sharing. Other non-polluting forms of urban transport must also be developed and facilitated in all cities.
- Fighting air pollution means restoring confidence in the train. France was for a long time the country of the railroad; I intend it to remain so. At a time when the founder of Tesla is investing billions in Hyperloop – groundbreaking technology for an ultra-high speed train (1,000 km/h or over 600 mph has been announced) – France is opting for the low-cost bus. Let us get away from this anachronism and equip ourselves, alongside other EU nations, with an Airbus of the railtracks, capable of holding its own with the many countries on all continents choosing very high speed, without CO2 emissions or fine particulates.
Proposal 5: Achieve 50% renewable energy by 2025.
- Launch a massive public investment plan to help citizens equip themselves with domestic renewable energy production equipment.
- Use the state’s position as major shareholder to initiate a reorganisation of EDF’s (Électricité de France) activities in order to enhance its capacities for research and the production of renewable energy. Rather than focus on its expertise in nuclear power, EDF should invest in renewable energy and organise the decentralisation of such energy production in line with our regions’ resources.
Proposal 6: Launch a National Zero Waste Plan. The goal is to move quickly from a wasteful linear economy to a circular one, by means of a zero-waste plan that includes:
- A strand targeting food waste.
- A requirement for metropolitan areas to recycle 50% of their annual waste (by 2022).
- Combat the programmed obsolescence of goods by developing a plan to encourage companies and citizens to recycle, repurpose and reuse materials, and by actively promoting eco-designed products.
Proposal 7: Combat pesticides and endocrine disruptors.
Measures should be taken as early as 2017 to bring an end, as soon as possible, to these substances’ harmful effects on the health of our children and fellow citizens.
Protect the population from pesticides:
- In line with the precautionary principle, we will withdraw authorisation for all pesticides for which a certain level of hazard is permitted (e.g. glyphosate). We cannot wait for diseases to occur before we protect populations. Similarly, permission to market will be subject to stricter requirements.
- The state will commit all necessary resources (financial support for conversion, access to land, technical advice and support) to assist farmers transition to a human-scaled and organic agriculture for all.
- We will ban the importation of agricultural products using substances prohibited in France.
Vote immediately for a moratorium on neo-nicotinoid pesticides.
At the European level, make CAP subsidies conditional upon high standards of pesticide use (with regard to type and quantity).
Proposal 8: Put finance at the service of ecological transition.
Left to its own devices, the market will not meet the finance needs of ecological transition, which are about 3% of GDP (60 to 70 billion euros/year). We must use all available levers to redirect financial flows towards the projects essential to this transition.
That’s why we must:
- Lower VAT for the most environment-friendly products. Environmental taxation should encourage virtuous industrialists and the circular economy.
- Mobilise French savings for ecological transition.
- Attract finance to ‘green’ projects through an ‘energy transition’ label for financial products.
Proposal 9: Create 13 regional development agencies for new production and consumption models.
These 13 agencies will be responsible for the realisation of our new development model and will in particular:
- Promote short supply chains, especially with regard to food, which will reduce waste. Financial support will help the disadvantaged to access quality food.
- Use information technology and digitisation to directly link producers and consumers in supply chains, which might be longer in distance terms, but which would be short with regard to the number of intermediaries.
- Use government instruments such as public procurement, particularly in school canteens, to promote, organise and develop responsible initiatives at the local level.
- To extend agro-ecological contracts so as to rebalance the financial relationships between actors in this sector, supporting the best from an environmental perspective – those which are successful but currently only marginally profitable (Système U – Terrena, Système U – Biolait, Filière Qualité Carrefour).
- Make agro-ecology a distinguishing factor for our exports, and stop focusing our export strategy on the agro-food sector alone.
Proposal 10: Re-launch “Europe of projects”, via energy transition.
- Plan energy transition projects at the European level, systematically positioning France as a leader on these issues in Europe.
- Campaign for public investment in support of ecological transition no longer to be counted in the 3% deficit (Maastricht criteria).
- Rebuild the legitimacy of the EU on this fundamental issue for the future of its peoples through an ambitious contribution of the member-states, the channelling of private funding towards green investments through incentive mechanisms, and the abolition of all subsidies for fossil fuel.
Proposal 11: Launch a plan against animal abuse.
Our objectives in terms of quality of life and quality of food do not justify the abuses that have multiplied recently in slaughterhouses, for the sole purpose of economic return. We must guarantee the highest standards of animal welfare in all circumstances and without exception.
Proposal 12: Act II of the social and solidarity economy: support this economy of the future so that it grows from 10 to 20% of GDP by 2025.
A ‘social and solidarity’ economy is a moderate and resilient economy which, in its principle and in its modes of action, consistently supports a green transition. By promoting the local, short supply chains, and a rational use of our resources, it points towards a new model of development. We shall foster the spread of this model to all our regions and to all sectors of our economy.