“None of the candidates recognizes the climate emergency”: scientists and NGOs react to the debate between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron

Nineteen minutes. This is the time devoted to global warming during the 2 hours and 50 minutes of the debate between the two rounds of the presidential election between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, Wednesday April 20. This sequence, which weighs 11% of the exchanges, was eagerly awaited by environmental associations, which had asked in recent days that a fifth of the debate be devoted to ecology, but also by scientists from the IPCC, who this year two important reports on the climate crisis.

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“My first reaction is to see that the subject has fortunately been on the list of topics discussed”testifies Wolfgang Cramer, research director at the Mediterranean Institute of Biodiversity and Marine and Continental Ecology (Imbe) and co-author of the second part of the latest IPCC report. This German researcher, who lives in France but does not vote there, notes however that“none of the candidates really recognizes the climate emergency”. “The need to act is much stronger today and it was not reflected in their speeches”he regrets.

A disappointment shared by Anne Bringault, program coordinator for the Climate Action Network (RAC). “No additional measures have been announced, while Emmanuel Macron’s program is largely insufficient to respect the trajectory of the Paris agreement and that of Marine Le Pen downright includes measures harmful to the climate, such as the reduction VAT on fuels”, she explains. For the RAC, this type of measure should be temporary, reserved for the households most in difficulty and accompanied by alternatives to offer less polluting solutions to motorists.

Pierre Cannet, director of advocacy and campaigns for WWF France, told him that he was “remained on (his) hunger”. “Munfortunately, this debate was not up to par, or even off the mark”he believes, referring to the lack of concrete answers on “how to profoundly transform our economy, our society”.

If Wolfgang Cramer considers positive the fact that the candidates talked a lot about energy, Anne Bringault regrets that once again, “the environmental issue is limited to a debate ‘for or against nuclear power and wind turbines'”. “It’s a shame because in France, the first emitting sector is transport. It is important to have a debate on the transformation of the automotive industry, rail, cycling and public transport”, she judges. An opinion shared by climatologist Christophe Cassou, co-author of the first part of the latest IPCC report, who found the exchange “quite distressing and pitiful”. He regrets that the candidates locked themselves in a debate “cartoonish” on electricity, not to mention the “real issues”.

“I would have liked them to talk about the preservation of life. Biodiversity and the climate are two sides of the same coin. The preservation of ecosystems is an asset for adapting and limiting global warming.”

Christophe Cassou, climatologist

at franceinfo

And to cite the transformation of agriculture, lifestyles, jobs and industry… For the climatologist, the debate has not reflected either “the cross-cutting nature of the problem”. “For each theme addressed, they could have asked a final question on how environmental issues and climate commitments fit into this theme”he suggests.

Finally, Anne Bringault regrets that the environment was presented as a simple concern of young people. “Yes, young people are concerned about global warming. But all opinion studies show that it is shared by all age groupsunderlines the activist of the RAC. People see the concrete impacts, with droughts, fires and rising sea levels.”. On Twitteractivist Stacy Algrain recalled that there was no “one planet for the young and one for the old”.

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