France to outlaw heaters on café terraces in new package of green measures

Heated terraces at French bars and restaurants will be outlawed starting next year, as part of a package of measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions unveiled by the government on Monday.

France to outlaw heaters on café terraces in new package of green measures
Photo: AFP

President Emmanuel Macron has pledged bold action for tackling climate change, saying they will be at the heart of the economic stimulus plan for recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

But Macron has been stung by accusations that businesses and poorer households often end up bearing the brunt of the costs for his green ambitions.

After the “yellow vest” anti-government protests last year he set up a Citizen's Convention on Climate, whose 150 randomly picked members announced dozens of proposals last month, including the ban on heating outdoor seating areas.

Owners turned to them en masse when France extended its indoor smoking ban to restaurants and bars in 2008, to the dismay of environmental activists who railed against a wasteful use of electricity or natural gas.

READ ALSO 'Energy monsters' – Can Paris cafés survive a ban on heated terraces?

While a handful of French cities have already banned heated terraces, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has refused, saying businesses stand to lose a huge chunk of their revenues.

“People now understand that we are at risk and that, if we don't do anything, we'll have an ecological crisis after this health crisis,” Macron's new Environment Minister Barbara Pompili told French daily Le Monde on Monday.

Among other measures to be introduced by decree in the coming months, building owners will be encouraged to improve insulation, and will be prohibited from installing coal or fuel oil furnaces.

New limits on development will also be rolled out to limit the “concreting” of natural areas, though the government held back on an outright ban of new shopping malls outside cities, long demanded by green activists.

The measures, which came after a meeting of Macron's environmental defence council of top ministers on Monday, got a lukewarm response from environmental groups.

Clement Senechal of Greenpeace France said they “push back any real change until 2023, after the end of Macron's term.”

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French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.