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Climate investment: the French receipe

13 October 2023 - Foreword of the week - By : Ciarán HUMPHREYS

Climate action is a rich stew with many ingredients. From transport to agriculture, construction to forestry, every part supports the whole. The stew would be incomplete without one crucial but rare addition: public investment. Chefs d’état in Paris and Brussels are currently scratching their heads on how best to add this ingredient to the pot. Two hurdles face them: how to invest enough, and how to guarantee that investment over the long term.  In this newsletter, we have translated some of I4CE‘s analysis to better understand what’s going on in the French kitchen, complemented with a dash of a European cleantech investment plan.


The French recipe is tackling the question of scale with its latest draft budget, which sees an unprecedented commitment of an additional €7bn for climate investment in 2024. Yet beyond 2024, with the need for investment only increasing, the picture becomes more unclear. Will the benefits be felt at every level of society, and will the government be able to finance this investment in the long term? A sprinkle of long-term perspective is the missing seasoning – which the government’s proposed multiannual investment plan may be able to successfully provide.


At the EU level, the stew takes a little longer to bring to the boil. Long-term planning is assured – in the seven-year EU Budget or in multi-annual programs, of which the newly-announced Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) is one. STEP, however, is simply not large enough, with €10bn of fresh investment spread over 4 years and 27 Member States. The European offer could do with some beefing up. President Macron has called for years for a truly European response. Supporting EU initiatives such as STEP offers an opportunity to translate French ambition into European action. With a little creativity in the kitchen, there’s a chance everyone can go home satisfied.   


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