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France to save energy as Hollande heals Green rift

AFP/The Local · 20 Sep 2013, 13:01

Published: 20 Sep 2013 13:01 GMT+02:00

Speaking at a national conference on the environment in Paris, Hollande said: "I propose that we set a goal of reducing consumption of fossil energy by 30 percent by 2030.

"We can make savings of €20 to 50 billion ($27 to 67 billion) in our energy bill by 2030," he added.

Hollande said that easing France's dependence on fossil fuels was a core element of a plan "to reduce our overall energy consumption by 50 percent by 2050."

But, he said, "let's not be dogmatic about this – if we are little bit off the mark, it won't be disastrous."

Hollande outlined several measures to help reach these goals, including a reduction from 10 percent to five percent in value-added tax (VAT) to spur energy efficiency in homes.

They include "smart, carbon-less" cars, for which measures would be needed to encourage installation of electrical recharging points in French towns and cities, he said.

A quarter of all new cars bought by state organisations would be electric or hybrids, and all cars that the state bought for purely urban use would be electric.

Another proposal will be a reduction from 2014 from 10 percent to five percent in value-added tax (VAT) for work to improve energy efficiency in homes.

There would also be incentives for fuels made from biomass.

A draft law on "energy transition" will be put to parliament in the first half of 2014, he added.

On Thursday, the daily Le Monde reported that France would impose a tax of seven euros ($9.45) per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2014, providing revenue of 400 million euros ($550 million).

A draft law on "energy transition" will be put to parliament in the first half of 2014, he added.

Friday's announcement comes exactly six days after a senior figure in the Green party issued Hollande a controversial six-day ultimatum to make an advance on energy issues.

"The president has six days to tell us what's truly going to be his [plan for] energy transition," said Pascal Durand, Secretary-General of the EELV party (Europe Ecology the Greens).

Durand's bold ultimatum sparked a firestorm during the week, and French daily L'Express reported on Friday that PM Jean-Marc Ayrault had "demanded the head of Pascal Durand," in reprisal.

Durand was walked back from his ultimatum by French Housing Minister and party colleague Cécile Duflot, but his extraordinary statement reflects a growing frustration among Green party officials that Hollande and the Socialists are dragging their feet on energy and environmental issues.

In July, Green politician Delphine Batho was fired as Ecology, Development and Sustainable Energy Minister, after criticizing a government plan to cut her department's budget by seven percent.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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