In 2018, a two-year-long protest began in France. The millions of protesters painted the French streets yellow by wearing yellow vests. They protested against the higher fuel prices, poorer living conditions and rising inequality in response to an environmental tax reform.
Ever since, the yellow vests have served as an example to many European politicians on what not to do when introducing climate measures. And it has certainly put just transition on top of the agenda across the continent.
This presidential election is the first election after the protests and the second round will be held this Sunday. One of the hot topics in the election is climate change and a just green transition, where Emmanuel Macron is trying to gain leverage by focusing on environmental ambitions.
The French want climate action
A Eurobarometer survey from 2021 shows that 81 pct. of the French do not think that the government is doing enough to tackle climate change.
These numbers are high considering this was the country where The Yellow Vests were mobilized just four years ago.
However, the incumbent Macron has vowed to turn France into a “great environmental nation” by among other things planting 140 million trees and building 50 offshore wind farms by 2030.
No one must be left behind
No matter who comes out on top in the second round it will be important to ensure the support of the 81 pct. of the French who calls for more climate action.
A survey by the Danish Trade Union Confederation shows that the group of skeptical wage earners in Denmark largely consists skilled and unskilled workers and wage earners in rural areas.
They are concerned about the transition happening too quickly, about a loss of competitiveness and about losing their jobs.
It is therefore not enough to focus solely on the attitudes of the average citizen or to cater to those who have higher education or live in the cities.
There is a need to understand and improve conditions for those who are concerned about the transition. Justice is not just about getting most people on board – it is about leaving no one behind.
The figure below shows that there is widespread support for the green transition at all layers of society in France.
Danish Trade Union Confederation
Eurobarometer. 2021. Special Eurobarometer – Climate Change – France March-April 2021