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French election: Macron pledges to review climate policy as he courts leftist vote

Emmanuel Macron promised that in the event of re-election, his Prime Minister would be “directly responsible for environmental planning”, in order to go “twice as fast” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In front of a crowd of supporters in Marseille, he promised a “complete renewal” of his policy, claiming to have “heard” the message of the first round.

The French president and centrist candidate, who faces a second round next Sunday with Marine Le Pen, needs the support of left-wing voters to be assured of victory.

The votes of those who backed veteran left-winger Jean-Luc Mélenchon last weekend are crucial to meeting the challenge. He fell out of the race after finishing third – but won 22% of the vote, putting him two points short of ousting the far-right candidate.

Under bright sunshine in the southern port city, Macron promised his supporters a prime minister “directly in charge of environmental planning”, “supported by two strong ministers”.

The first of them, he said, would become “Minister of Energy Planning”, charged with a “mission to make France the first major nation to get out of oil, gas and coal”.

The second delegate minister would be “responsible for environmental spatial planning” to tackle local transport, “reinvest in river and rail freight”, “accelerate the renovation of housing, at least 700,000 per year over the next five years”, and also to “act for the quality of water, air and food”.

Defending his record during his first term, Emmanuel Macron cited large-scale projects that had been shelved, such as a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in western France, and a new Terminal 4 at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. .

“We have been twice as fast as the two previous five-year (presidencies) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have reduced them by 12% in five years”, he argued, promising to go “twice as fast” now.

” You know what ? We will do it ! he said, calling his rival Le Pen “incompetent” and a climate change skeptic.

According to the left-wing think-tank Fondation Jean-Jaurès, the defeated candidate for third place Mélenchon has attracted particular support among 18-24 year olds for whom environmental and cultural issues are important.

Marine Le Pen campaigned on Saturday in Saint Rémy-sur-Avre, a small town west of Paris where she came out on top in the first round of elections. The candidate of the “National Rally” has promised to lead France as a “mother”, defending “the most vulnerable”, if she is elected on April 24.

During her visit, she was greeted by people who complained of high payroll taxes, substandard housing and a lack of support for merchants forced to close during the Covid pandemic.

More than one has raised the issue of the Muslim headscarf, which Le Pen wants to ban in public. She told reporters it was a “complex issue” and that she was “not obtuse”, adding that her controversial proposal would be debated in parliament.

“We must solve the problem of women who are forced to wear (it) under pressure from the Islamists,” she said.

Commenting on the closure of a factory in the region, Le Pen criticized “wild globalization, a fool’s bargain”, promising to take into account the “tens of millions of French people who were not the priority” of previous governments.

Le Pen – whose anti-immigration stance includes discrimination against foreigners, including EU citizens – also took a swipe at thousands of protesters who marched to France against the far-right on Saturday.

“Coming to demonstrate against the results of an election, I find that deeply anti-democratic,” she said. “I want to say to these people: go vote then!” she added.

One week before the second round next Sunday, an opinion poll carried out by Ipsos Sopra/Steria suggests that Emmanuel Macron is ahead of Marine Le Pen by more than 10 points of voting intentions, with 55.5% of the vote against 44 .5% for its rival.

Other polls have suggested a tighter race, which certainly looks a lot tighter than five years ago when Macron won two-thirds of the second round to beat Le Pen for the presidency.

euronews Gt

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