Grenelle Day 1 – overhaul of construction sector, “clean” cars will get a rebate

Highlights of Day 1 (climate change, public health, waste disposal) of the roundtable at the Grenelle:

1. consensus on new energy efficiency norms in the building sector. “The highlights are the building sector, with the establishment of new thresholds (of energy consumption) in the public and the private sector and a change in transport strategy,” Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told journalists. New buildings will have to meet a threshold of 50 kWh per square meter per year, compared with a current 260. All public buildings will have to undergo an energy audit starting 2008. According to the Alliance pour la planète, a coalition of 80 NGOs including Greenpeace and WWF, older buildings will be encouraged to renovate their energy efficiency to 80 kWh per square meter per year, without stipulating a timetable.

2. agreement on the establishment of an for eco-tag for “clean” cars – whereby consumers will benefit from a rebate (no sum specified) for purchasing such vehicles, financed by taxing older, less-efficient cars. Lorries will get hit with an eco-tax when they are driving outside of highways, and Borloo made a pledge to develop rail and river freight. A proposal to reduce speed limits on all French roads and for lorries in particular was not adopted.

“Everyone agrees that we can cut energy consumption by 20 percent in France by 2020, and 38 percent in the construction sector,” Borloo said. He also pledged to develop transport by rail and river freight. Representatives of the main NGOs at the round table expressed satisfaction at the commitments on transport and construction. The issue of a “carbon tax” on petrol and petrol products failed to yield agreement and will be left to President Nicolas Sarkozy to arbitrate tomorrow. The roundtable continues tomorrow – biodiversity, agriculture, GMOs, governance and democracy – and will wrap up with a press conference by Sarkozy in the afternoon, with Al Gore in attendance.

via Le Monde

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