Macron goes green to attract red voters – POLITICO

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Emmanuel Macron hopes a green pivot will help him secure a second term as French president by winning over green voters who backed left-wing candidates in the first round.

The fact that the candidate, who ran five years ago under the motto “make our planet great again”, has to struggle to convince skeptics that he is really a Green is a sign of his patchy record in office. But in a thrilling race against nationalist rival Marine Le Pen, he must get those voters to vote for him instead of staying home for the April 24 runoff.

He was in full green mode on Thursday during a trip to Le Havre, where he stopped by a wind turbine factory and made the case for stronger green action.

“If we want to be successful in our ecological transition, we need to produce more decarbonized, but also recycle,” said Macron told a local radio station. He pledged to ban single-use plastics by 2040 and promote renewable energy.

Macron reckons campaigning on green issues will help him appeal to voters who backed the Greens’ Yannick Jadot – who garnered 4.6 percent of the vote last week – and leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon – who at 22 had a surprisingly strong one third place percent.

Macron insists he shares “common points” with Jadot and Mélenchon “in terms of ecology, carbon neutrality by 2050 and compliance with the Paris Agreement.” [Le Pen’s] The far-right project denies these goals.”

He even pinches Mélenchon’s catchphrase of “ecological planning” – an idea that the government would tackle climate change by coordinating measures ranging from banning some types of fertilizers to ensuring homes are properly insulated to reduce energy use .

“I like this idea,” said Macron.

So far, Mélenchon hasn’t been very enthusiastic about it. The far-left candidate, who has made climate issues a central part of his campaign, did not specifically urge his constituents to support Macron, saying only that they should “not cast a single vote” for Le Pen.

The danger for Macron is about half Mélenchon’s supporters to say they will suspend the second ballot. With Macron leading Le Pen by 53 to 47 percent in the POLITICO polls, he needs those voters to show himself.

Opposition to Macron among Mélenchon voters is “quite virulent,” said Pierre Latrille, a pollster at Ipsos, but “voting for Marine Le Pen remains difficult.”

Jadot also urged his constituents to block Le Pen, but warned that “our vote … does not mean supporting the project [Macron] outlined during the campaign.”

It’s a stark change for Macron, who clinched an easy victory over Le Pen in 2017, fueled by a green agenda that ranged from raising global climate targets and banning pesticides to liberating bears in the Pyrenees to reducing the nuclear power is enough.

Five years later, many of those promises look flimsy.

He was forced to withdraw a fuel tax after it sparked months of violent protests from the Yellow Vests movement.

His acting environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, resigned in disgust at his lack of influence on government policy.

The Citizens’ Convention on Climate, a group of 150 randomly selected citizens asked to comment on the government’s green policies, was intended to be Macron’s signature green policy. But it ended up leaving many angry when the government failed to enact all of the assembly’s recommendations into law. Macron’s attempt to include environmental protection and the fight against climate change in France’s constitution has failed.

The High Council on Climate – an independent government advisory body – says He has done too little to accelerate the country’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Instead of backing down on nuclear power, Macron is now promising an ambitious expansion program with 14 new reactors by 2050. He is in line with Le Pen and at odds with his left-wing opponents, who are calling for a nuclear phase-out as soon as possible.

With Donald Trump’s departure from the White House, the US has returned as a leader on climate change, ceding a smaller role to Macron and France.

The lesser evil

While Macron doesn’t get much affection from the Greens, he argues that he’s better for the climate and the environment than Le Pen.

“Le Pen’s project is to completely phase out renewable energy and replace it with nuclear power, which makes no sense in terms of time,” said Macron called in Le Havre and argues that new nuclear power plants will not go online until around 2035, “so they will not cover the needs of the next 15 years”.

It is likely that left-wing voters who choose to vote for Macron in the second round will be motivated by a desire to block Le Pen rather than strong support for his policies, even as he promises to boost green ambitions, said Latrille.

“The argument of fighting the extreme right might be stronger than the argument that he can make left politics,” he said.

If Macron wins a second term, thanks to snubbed votes from leftists more afraid of Le Pen than enthusiastic about him, it probably won’t be good news for the president’s centrist party, La République En Marche, in June’s general election.

“The problem is that the [left-wing] Voters will feel that they have already given him a chance’ by backing him in the presidential race, said Antoine Bristielle, who studies public opinion at the Jean Jaurès Foundation think tank.

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