Cablegate: French Government Focuses Inwardly On Environment:
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #4139/01 2751613
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021613Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0610
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 004139
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ECON PGOV FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH GOVERNMENT FOCUSES INWARDLY ON ENVIRONMENT:
IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S.
REF: A. PARIS 3967
B. 06 PARIS 7584
1. (SBU) Summary: While the world debates global climate
issues, France's environmental attention is inward-focused.
Sarkozy and State Minister Borloo of the 'mega' Environment
Ministry - together with a range of stakeholders - are
shaping environmental policies which will largely determine
France's planning, energy, and transportation future. The
debate also includes whether France should grow GMO crops
and, if so, under what conditions. This domestic process,
called locally the 'Grenelle' process, has regenerated
interest in the proposal for a carbon tax on imported goods
from countries not adhering to a Kyoto Protocol-like
cap-and-trade system. We are reviewing these proposals for
content and to determine how best to protect U.S. interests.
'Grenelle' and Sarkozy's promises...
2. (U) Before this year's presidential elections, candidate
Sarkozy pledged - were he elected - to place environment at
the center of his government. This he has done by creating a
'mega' Ministry for the Environment with authority over
energy, transportation, and planning, in addition to the
traditional subject areas of environment and sustainable
development. He headed this Ministry with a State Minister,
ranking third in the government after the president and the
prime minister. When Alain Juppe failed to capture a
legislative seat, Sarkozy promoted popular politician
Jean-Louis Borloo to the State Minister slot.
3. (U) Undergirding this structure, Sarkozy also pledged to
gather stakeholders across the public, private and
nongovernmental sectors in a process akin to that which
created a new social contract in the chaotic year of 1968.
That latter process gathered labor unions and student
organizations in Grenelle, on Paris' Left Bank, thus the
epithet Grenelle for the environment for the current
undertaking. The new, environmental Grenelle addresses the
electorate's broad concern about the environment and the
future, and is designed to provide the government explicit
direction for its environmental policies in the coming five
years, the period of the president's mandate.
4. (U) Government bodies, regional authorities, labor unions,
business organizations, NGOs are all now immersed in the
Grenelle process. By the end of October, eight working
groups must select 30 concrete measures to put France on
track to reach its legally mandated goal of a 75% reduction
in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Working group
priorities include climate, biodiversity, transportation,
environmental governance, health and the environment,
agriculture, and promotion of sustainable development. While
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were to be treated
horizontally as an element within each group, coordinating
this controversial topic became too unwieldy and a separate
working group was established to address the GMO issue. On
September 27, each group released proposed measures.
Parliament takes them up on October 3. Concurrently, debates
take place throughout France and on the Internet regarding
these proposals. A roundtable will decide which ones will be
retained as government policy by end October.
What's at stake?
5. (SBU) While the Grenelle process has yet to reach its
climax, some outcomes are taking shape. We are almost
certain to see stricter guidelines, for instance, for air
quality. Likewise, various proposals are to enhance building
regulations to promote energy efficiency. Gasoline taxes may
be raised to finance renewable investments. We've even seen
proposals that would mandate use of new macroeconomic
indicators to capture environmental externalities.
6. (SBU) Other issues we're working to better understand -
and ones which might most closely affect U.S. interests -
- Nuclear energy: The government wants a clear mandate to
proceed with nuclear energy and in particular a green light
for construction of the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) in
PARIS 00004139 002 OF 002
Normandy. The EPR would possibly become the reactor model
for a new fleet of French reactors. We believe the
government is committed to this next generation of reactor to
such an extent that Paris will consider other concessions to
ensure there will be no objections to the prospect of an
undimmed nuclear future.
- GMOs: Another central question relates to the Grenelle's
response to GMO's. The media widely reported State Minister
Borloo's intention to call for a moratorium on commercial
biotech production. There have been proposals calling for
the creation of a separate agency to oversee GMO testing.
(See ref A.)
- Border Carbon Tax: The proposed import tax on goods
manufactured in countries not party to a 'Kyoto
Protocol-like' cap-and-trade system has also received
heightened interest in the Grenelle. (See ref B for
background on this proposal.) Where this topic will go
remains to be seen.
7. (SBU) Comment: The Grenelle is Sarkozy's ambitious
commitment to conduct during the five year presidential
mandate the "necessary actions to resolve France's
environmental problems within one generation and two
generations for climate change." The Grenelle results are
also expected to inform France's EU presidency, the second
half of 2008. The Embassy is reviewing carefully the
unfolding Grenelle with a view to interceding to protect U.S.
interests. End Comment.
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: