Emmanuel Macron’s double discourse on the climate

French President, Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, before a bilateral meeting, during the COP27 summit, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, November 7, 2022.

On November 15, 2017, Emmanuel Macron comes down from the podium at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. During his speech, he once again posed himself as the main opponent of Donald Trump, the American president at the time. “I therefore hope that Europe will replace the Americans and I want to tell you here that France will be there”he promises.

In June this year, when Donald Trump announced his country was leaving the Paris agreement, Mr. Macron published a video in which he launched “Make our planet great again”, parodying the Trumpist campaign and enjoying global success. So, in the middle of the COP pavilions, he triumphs. Activists stop him to take selfies, small groups applaud him, everyone congratulates him…

“A real rock star”, remembers Pierre Cannet, public affairs director of the NGO ClientEarth. In 2017, the latter worked for the WWF and waited, with other NGOs, for the new President of the Republic at the French pavilion to question him. A few days earlier, the Minister of Ecology, Nicolas Hulot, just announced that the government was giving up on reducing the share of nuclear power in the energy mix to 50%. “It wasn’t really a dialogue, he lectured us moresays Mr. Cannet. At the time, he was really at the center of the international game…” But the clouds of French criticism are already following him.

An expected word

Unlike the new American president, Joe Biden, Mr. Macron will be present at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Friday 1er and Saturday December 2, during a speech in plenary then during working sessions and bilateral meetings, he wants to push several subjects: the tripling of renewable energies, the tripling of nuclear production in the world in 2050 ; the exit from fossil fuels, and especially coal, with the end of private investment in this sector; the preservation of carbon sinks and biodiversity; climate finance, since “no country must choose between the fight against poverty and the fight for the climate”, his new mantra. He should also praise the ecological planning put in place since the start of his second five-year term to “engage your partners” to imitate this strategy, according to the Elysée.

Will he be listened to? If Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has declined, his word is still awaited by part of civil society. Because the French president remains one of the most offensive leaders on the international scene. “For my part, I am very concerned about the spirit which is beginning to reign, including within the members of the G20 (…). I’m alerting everyone, we’re not there”he declared in New Delhi, India, on September 10, after a sluggish summit on the climate issue.

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