Macron Names Green Campaigner as Environment Minister, Ex-Nuclear Exec as PM
News reports this week are pointing toward a “rapid, massive, and visible” transition to renewable energy in France, after newly-installed President Emmanuel Macron selected popular environmental campaigner Nicolas Hulot as energy and ecology minister and Le Havre Mayor Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister.
Philippe previously served as public affairs lead for the state nuclear company, Areva, but told France Inter radio the country would now have to “reach the objectives set out by the President.” That will mean a “pragmatic” approach to the country’s future energy needs, “founded on the secure base of nuclear and a rapid, massive, and visible development of renewables.”
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In his campaign platform, Macron committed to doubling wind and solar capacity and phasing out coal by 2022, and to reducing France’s reliance on nuclear generation 50% by 2025.
ClimateHome reports that Hulot, a well-known environmental advocate and TV documentary producer, “has advised previous presidents and pushed green issues onto the political agenda, but never held office before.” In the past, he’s been critical of his country’s nuclear program and called for a faster shift to new technologies. Now, “I think, although I am not sure, that the new political situation offers an opportunity for action and I cannot ignore that,” he tweeted.
Shares in Électricité de France, the state utility that runs France’s nuclear stations, fell by up to 7% after Hulot’s appointment was announced, ClimateHome and Reuters reported, then bounced back after Philippe emerged as Macron’s pick for prime minister. “The market is reacting negatively to Hulot’s appointment. There is a fear of a stricter ecological line given Hulot’s history as an environmental campaigner,” Saxo Bank market analyst Andrea Tueni told Reuters.
“As renewable energy becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” Hulot said in March, in an interview with Le Parisien.