The recent dismissal from Cabinet of Environment Minister Delphine Batho, following her clear opposition to proposed cuts by 7% in France’s environmental budget, raised concerns about the future of environmental policies in France.
The incumbent Government of François Hollande was elected on a highly ambitious environmental programme. The appointment in June 2012 of human rights activist and politician Delphine Bartho as Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy had been hailed by environmental groups as proof of the government’s commitment to making France a “nation de l’excellence environnementale” (nation of environmental excellence). According to Greenpeace, Batho “is a collateral victim of the absence of ecological ambition by the government”.
The 2014 budget proposal, announced by the government on July 1st, introduces drastic spending cuts on the environment (7%), general administration (7.3%) and regional policies (8%).
The removal of Bartho from office comes at a critical moment in the country’s environmental and energy policy: France’s dependence on nuclear energy (currently around 75%) and the policies for the development of renewables are at the heart of organised debates on the country’s energy future. Bartho has been openly critical of shale gas and supportive of a massive expansion of renewable energy.
The new minister is socialist law maker Philippe Martin.