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France unveils sweeping green energy bill
A new bill proposes drastic major cuts to France's nuclear power program. Photo: AFP

France unveils sweeping green energy bill

Published: 18 Jun 2014 16:10 GMT+02:00

France on Wednesday unveiled a much-anticipated bill to reduce the country's dependency on nuclear energy and fossil fuels, after months of intense debate over one of the Socialist
government's pet projects.

The planned law, presented to the cabinet by energy and environment minister Segolene Royal, seeks to make France a greener country and reduce the nation's energy bill.

The bill is a chance "to develop new technologies, clean transport, energy efficiency and therefore to improve companies' competitiveness," Royal told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

It aims to cut the country's final energy consumption in half by 2050 and reduce the use of fossil fuels by 30 percent by 2030, in comparison with 2012 when Francois Hollande was elected president.

It also looks to reduce France's huge dependency on nuclear energy for electricity from 75 percent to 50 percent -- one of Hollande's campaign promises -- and to increase the use of renewables.

The bill lays out scores of measures including an obligation to make buildings and houses more energy efficient during renovations and installing seven million charging stations for electric cars over the next 15 years.

The bill, which still has to go through a long parliamentary process, was the subject of an intense nine-month debate as companies, NGOs, lawmakers and unions each fought their corners.

Experts estimate it will cost the country between 15 and 30 billion euros in investments every year until the so-called "energy transition" is completed.

An official statement handed to the cabinet noted that the investment "will have a powerful leverage effect to accelerate green growth and job creation."

Royal told reporters that the aim was to create 100,000 jobs in the energy sector.

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AFP/The Local (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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