People, Environment

French Voters Won’t Pay for Climate Change

French Voters Won’t Pay for Climate ChangeFrench Voters Won’t Pay for Climate Change

The French are more worried and outraged by climate change than their British or German neighbors, but they don’t want to pay for a solution.

That’s the conclusion of the first in-depth, large-scale survey into European attitudes on global warming. In France, 79% of people are worried by climate change, compared with 60% in the UK and 68% in Germany, according to the study published on Wednesday.

The findings leave a puzzle for the candidates vying for the support of voters who go to the polls next month in one of the most closely-watched elections in France’s history, Bloomberg reported.

The current government promised to cut the nation’s reliance on nuclear reactors, a pledge backed by presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron. His rival Marine Le Pen says she wants to “massively” develop renewables, except for a complete ban on wind energy.

“There’s some contradiction in the French people, as it relates to climate policies that might be difficult for the new government to face,” Marc Poumadere, a co-author of the report from Institut Symlog, said by phone.

“These will be difficult issues. The trick will be to manage the wish of the French people to have better climate policy.”

More than any other nation polled, French people say they are prepared to personally reduce their energy use to help the environment, according to researchers at Cardiff University in Wales, the University of Stuttgart in Germany, Institut Symlog in France and the University of Bergen and Rokkan Center for Social Studies in Norway.

Yet 74% oppose rising power prices to curb demand and 54% oppose increasing taxes on fossil fuels. The government last year dropped plans to introduce a carbon tax.

Weaning the country of nuclear energy may be a popular move. Currently, about three-quarters of France’s electricity comes from nuclear plants and the government wants to reduce that to half. Less than a quarter of French people interviewed backed nuclear energy compared with 40% in the UK.

Across the four countries surveyed, wind and solar had the support of 70% of the population or more.

Across all four nations, more than 80% of people believed the world’s climate is changing and a similar proportion say it’s at least partly caused by human activity. Six in 10 say we’re already feeling the impacts of climate change.

Most people also think public money should be used to prepare for climate change and to help developing countries cope. And two-thirds support the Paris climate agreement.

However, nuclear is not a popular option, especially in Germany and Norway where 40% or more are very strongly opposed. Some scientists, meanwhile, think nuclear power is essential to help us cut emissions.

Fracking is also unpopular, it is very strongly opposed by a quarter of people in all four countries, with only 6% or fewer strongly supporting it.


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