Thunderbolt in French Government: Environment Minister Unexpectedly Resigns

“I don’t want to lie to myself any more, or create the illusion that we are coping with [environmental] issues,” Nicolas Hulot said after he announced his resignation.

On August 28, the Environment Minister, Nicolas Hulot, guest on the France Inter Radio, bewildered everyone, including President Emanuel Macron, by announcing his departure. Indeed, he had warned neither the French President nor Prime Minister Philippe of his intentions.

Hulot is a well-known former television personality and a popular environmental campaigner in France, but also on a European scale. He had previously refused to take part in several administrations under the last three presidencies. That is why accepting to serve the Macron’s government was a personal victory for Macron and a good “publicity stunt”.

But now it seems to have backfired against the French leader. This resignation occurs at a most inconvenient moment for him as, one month ago, a film showing one of his bodyguards beating demonstrators, was released by a newspaper. Additionally, the President’s support ratings declined in August to 34%.

The environment struggle was a key piece of the election campaign supported by slogans, in particular “make our planet great again” after the US President decided to withdraw his country from the Paris Climate Accord. The critics made by the now-former Environment Minister discredit the President’s commitments.

Hulot said his resignation is related to the lack of actions implemented by the government. "I don't want to create the illusion that my presence in government means that we're up to standard on these issues, and so I've decided to quit," he said.

For him, it has only achieved “small steps” on environmental challenges, which is not enough. He notably spoke up against the postponement of the reducing of nuclear energy. The project targets a cut of the nuclear energy generated, initially by 2025, and postponed to 2035.

He also denounced the lobbying which influences the decisions. Finally, he claims that the government is turning a blind eye on pesticide issues. "Where are my troops? Who do I have behind me?" he asked.

However, the government answered that “The record of this government in terms of environment is the best it's been for many years,” citing, among others, the promotion of organic food.

By Antoine Dewaest

Photo: AFP

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29 August 2018 12:43