why the arrival of the National Rally in Matignon scares scientists

why the arrival of the National Rally in Matignon scares scientists
why the arrival of the National Rally in Matignon scares scientists
ALAIN JOCARD / AFP Scientists are worried about a possible arrival of the RN at Matignon. (Photo: Marine Le Pen presents a counter-proposal for a referendum on ecology in 2021)


Scientists are worried about a possible arrival of the RN at Matignon. (Photo: Marine Le Pen presents a counter-proposal for a referendum on ecology in 2021)

ENVIRONMENT – “For the ecology of the joy of living!” ». This sentence, written in the campaign program of the National Rally for the 2022 presidential election, summarizes the far-right party’s project in terms of the environment: not to change the daily lives of the French one iota so as not to rush them . A strategy of inaction that makes it impossible to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and maintain the Paris Climate Agreement.

The result of the European elections placing the RN far ahead with 31% of the votes, followed by the dissolution of the Assembly with the risk of the arrival of the populist party in Matignon, was a shock for scientists. Some have even gone beyond their duty of reserve, like the climatologist Jean Jouzel, internationally recognized for his work within the IPCC, who is saddened in The world : “ The RN has no ambition in terms of fighting climate change. It’s emptiness. “.

His counterpart, climatologist Christophe Cassou, shared a press release from the Popular Front on X, arguing: “What if the forces of social progress and environmental protection finally together (…) could tear up a page of history dominated by deception, xenophobia, and inhumanity? “. For her part, paleoclimatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte criticizes, again in the columns of World, that “ [le] climate change is not going to disappear because we ignore it ».

Aurélien Boutaud, doctor in earth and environmental sciences and author of Declare a state of climate emergency (Editions Rue de l’échquier), share their anger. Answering questions from HuffPostTHE vsresearcher at the University of Lyon explains the danger that would be represented by the accession to power of a party that is slowing down to implement major climate policies.

HuffPost: Can we say that the RN is climate skeptic?

Aurélien Boutaud: Historically, the National Front, which became the National Rally, has never been interested in ecology. There is a large majority of RN deputies who put the climate problem into perspective. An elected RN even said that the IPCC had a tendency to “exaggerate global warming” (Editor’s note: comments made by Thomas Ménage, former RN deputy for Loiret, in August 2023, on France Inter). So yes, there is a persistent climate skepticism within this far-right party.

However, the RN has recently taken up the climate issue, why?

Since 2019-2020, on the sidelines of the first Climate Marches, the environment has risen to the top of the French people’s concerns. It has become untenable for a party, however climate-sceptical it may be, not to have some proposals on the subject.

The RN advocates a “national ecology” And ” local “, what is hidden behind this vision?

A French ecology means nothing. Climate issues are a global issue, which means that we need frameworks and laws on a European and global scale. Otherwise we fall into nationalist opportunist logic which consists of saying “if this country does not commit to the climate, neither do I”.

Beyond that, the example of “localism” is symptomatic of the incompetence of the RN on climate issues. Eating local is a good thing, but transporting goods represents only a small part of the carbon footprint of the food we eat. These are the production and processing stages that emit the most CO2.

To give a telling example, a kilo of meat produced near you has a much higher carbon footprint than a kilo of cereal produced in Australia. Of course we need to relocate, but above all we need to reduce the proportion of animal proteins on our plates. But highlighting this scientific reality would obviously not be popular with RN voters. (Editor’s note: to go further, you can consult this study which shows how reducing your meat consumption is more effective for the planet than eating 100% local).

Precisely, when it comes to reducing our meat consumption, slowing down on our car or plane journeys, or even using fewer pesticides, the RN brings out the argument of “punitive ecology”. Why is this slogan dangerous?

It is the political wait-and-see attitude that is dangerous. To face the climate emergency, we must radically change the way society functions in order to move away from fossil fuels. We must act on land use planning, housing insulation, agricultural production… It is a revolution in our lifestyles that is at stake to save the planet. But the RN above all does not want to touch the daily lives of the French, with the sole aim of flattering its electorate.

In this case, the RN also insists that it is the poorest who are victims of climate policies…

Yes, the RN does not accept the reality that the ecological transition requires social justice policies. We must help disadvantaged people, who pollute the least, to invest in an electric car and insulate their homes so that they are less affected by rising energy prices. Without this dimension of solidarity, the transition will not take place.

The RN also mainly relies on technology to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, is this viable in the long term?

This is what I call the “ technological conservatism “. In order not to change lifestyles, the RN promises that technology will save us. For example, the populist party claims that nuclear power will decarbonize the economy, without needing to ask the French to reduce their consumption. But sobriety is essential to any energy transition: we must halve our energy consumption at least by 2050. (Editor’s note: to go further, read the report from energy manager RTE on energy futures in 2050 which shows the importance of sobriety and an energy mix integrating renewable energies to achieve carbon neutrality).

Do you think that the rise in power of the RN reflects a decline in interest in ecological issues among the French? How to remobilize on this subject?

When we have been working on these issues for decades, we realize that interest in the environment works in waves. Here, we are in a trough, I would even say that we have hit rock bottom, but we can bounce back thanks to citizen, scientific and political mobilization. All parties can get involved and put ecology back at the heart of their program. Except the RN. Its positioning on climate and social policies does not allow it to carry out the immense fight to save the planet.

Also see on HuffPost :

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