Reactions to the Grenelle have been overwhelmingly positive – even the opposition Socialist Party, despite frustration that the right-wing government has stolen their thunder on the environment, traditionally a preseve of the left, welcomed the fact that significant progress had been made on multiple fronts, and focused their questions on doubts about implementation and financing. Yannick Jadot, spokesman for Greenpeace France acknowledged that “there is an ambition, there is a change of culture at the state level, at the parliamentary level… but unfortunately there is still too much ambiguity for us not to be extremely vigilant about what comes next.” He noted that the measures outlined by Sarkozy on housing and transport were “very interesting” but that the proposals for pesticides, agriculture, waste disposal and transparency were unclear.
The government’s pledge to reduce pesticide use by 50 percent in 10 years was one of the surprise elements of the final deal – most NGOs had expected the government to cave into the agriculture lobbies and come up with a much smaller commitment. “Here is a very strong commitment on the government’s part which reiterates one of the main demands of the Alliance,” said François Veillerette, head of an anti-pesticide group. “France, the number one consumer of pesticides in Europe, has finally taken the leap towards a modern style of agriculture which respects the environment and health.”
So what’s next? There are still a number of hurdles before Sarkozy’s promised ecological “New Deal” becomes a reality. Work will start in earnest around mid-December. A follow-up committee will meet to elaborate the measures in detail, and above all come up with ways to finance all the measures. Then comes the administrative and legislative process. “We probably won’t know for a year whether the Grenelle will change things.” said Arnaud Gossement of France Nature Environnement.
How will the Grenelle affect business in France? Laurence Parisot, head of the main business lobby, the Medef, said: “We found a good balance between the need to integrate ecological interests, all the while respecting economic interests.” France Nature Environnement noted that the measures would force businesses to modify the industrial process, notably by calculating the life-cycle of their products for a new carbon label.
“The process has enabled an institutionalization of things that already existed,” said Séverin Fischer, head of mission for the Entreprises pour l’Environnement, a coalition grouping around 40 big French companies including Total, Rhodia and ArcelorMittal. “..this exercise paves the way for a new climate between entrepreneurs and other actors, notably the NGOs.” Articles on the Grenelle in the press elsewhere are available at the Guardian and the BBC. You can see a video of Sarkozy’s final press conference yesterday at the Elysée website.
Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Junior Environment Minister, 34 years old, youngest cabinet member, green to the core and the brain behind the scenes at the Grenelle.
via Le Monde