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For a year, I4CE has been meeting with the campaign teams of the main presidential candidates to encourage them to prepare their climate program in order to reach the French objectives. In particular, we asked them to prepare their “climate budget”: the State and more broadly the public authorities now play a decisive role in the necessary investments for the climate, and they must anticipate the considerable increase in these investments for France to achieve its 2030 objective. All the more now the European target has been raised. Preparing a climate budget is a mark of credibility and transparency, a test of consistency.

So, are they ready? The decoding of the programs (in French only) conducted by the I4CE team shows that, first of all, if the climate is absent from the presidential debate, is not absent from the programs of most of the candidates. This is good news. However, not all of them have the same level of preparation, their proposals are sometimes vague, they are more of an intention and their financial impact is not anticipated. We still read too often that “substantial investments are needed here and there”, without saying who will pay and how much.

The new five-year presidential term begins with a double opportunity to develop a real strategy for financing the transition

The next President will have to be ready as soon as he or she takes office. The new five-year term will open with a double opportunity to develop a real strategy for financing the transition: the public finance programming law and the energy and climate programming law. An agenda that will make it possible – as most of the candidates would like – to draw more precisely the paths of the transition sector by sector, to program public financing for the climate over the long term and thus to give more visibility to private actors, to be transparent and to collectively debate the volume of France’s climate budget, its effectiveness and its strategic orientations.

This debate is all the more necessary as I4CE’s decoding (in French only) shows – as expected – very contrasting visions of what this budget should contain. Strong increase of public financing versus mobilization of private savings; reinforcement or stabilization of the regulatory and fiscal framework; public debt versus private debt; effectiveness or efficiency of public spending… So many points of discussion, and different visions.

The next tenant of the Elysée will be able to rely on the consensus between candidates, which is often the legacy of the yellow vest crisis

In the future laws of public finance programming and energy climate programming, the new President should not forget some challenges (in French only) that too many candidates tend to omit in their programs, starting with the financing of the new energy mix, the support of farmers or the transformation of the wood industry. He or she will also be able to rely on the consensus between Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Valérie Pécresse… while waiting for the analysis of Emmanuel Macron’s program.

There is a consensus on the need to adapt France to the impacts of climate change or to give the means to local authorities to take their full part in the transition, even if, in both cases, the proposals are still vague overall. More surprisingly, there is also a consensus on the gradual elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, on transparency in the use of carbon tax revenues and even on ecological taxation, and on increased support for low-income households.

We can analyse these last consensuses, just like the one on the freezing of the carbon tax, as the legacy of the French yellow vests crisis: the social issue and inequalities are now at the heart of the climate debates. Let’s not forget it. The next President will have the difficult task of organizing a transition that is “fair”. To build a social pact around climate issues and initiate its implementation. The differences between the different candidates on the “climate budget” will be points of discussion to have, not to evade; and the consensuses will be points of anchorage for such a social pact.

See the climate decoding of the French presidential election (website in French only)

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