Macron prepares an energy saving plan before a Russia that uses gas as a “weapon of war” | International
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French President Emmanuel Macron warned the French on Thursday that the war in Ukraine is going to take a long time and hard times await all European countries. Especially since Russia has decided to make gas a “weapon of war”, so we must be prepared for the possibility that Moscow will completely stop supplying Europe, he explained in a televised interview, the first since his re-election in April. . Faced with this more than probable prospect, the French Government assumes a situation of “war economy” and is going to immediately prepare an “energy sobriety plan” to reduce the consumption of gas and electricity in all spheres, from public institutions to companies and citizens themselves, Macron has advanced, who has stressed, for example, the need to turn off night lighting where it is “useless” to keep it on.
“We have to prepare ourselves for a scenario in which we all live totally without Russian gas”, so we have to “collectively enter into a logic of sobriety”, the president stressed during the Bastille Day interview, a French presidential tradition every July 14 that Macron had only met once: in 2020 and when another international crisis was weathering, that of the coronavirus pandemic. Now it is a war at the gates of Europe that is already affecting the pockets of the whole world, especially Europeans, with the rise in prices, especially energy, which is triggering inflation.
France is less dependent on Russian gas than most of its neighbors —it only imports 20% of its gas from the Eurasian country— and its inflation is high (5.8%), but it is also lower than that of the other European countries, in partly because of the tariff shield that it has imposed on gas and electricity providers to protect consumers. But neither can this situation be maintained forever – Macron has confirmed that the general containment of energy prices will only last until the end of the year and that, in 2023, more “focused” measures will be sought to protect vulnerable households – nor is France totally immune to a potential Russian supply cut.
For this reason, Macron announced after participating in the also traditional military parade on the Champs-Élysées, the Government “is going to prepare a plan to consume less” energy, something that must be, he stressed, a collective effort. “We are going to make a plan for the Administrations, [será] a plan of sobriety in which we will ask all our compatriots to get involved, and we are going to make a plan of sobriety and reduction of gas and electricity with our companies”, he listed. We must “try to pay attention collectively”, Macron has insisted, who has set the example of turning off night lighting when it is unnecessary.
It is not the president’s first measure aimed at finding ways to consume less. A few weeks ago, the Government launched three working groups to improve energy savings both in the Administration and in the private sector, from small businesses to companies or large retailers, to see what measures can be taken to achieve the declared objective of reducing a 10% compared to 2019 the energy consumption of France in the next two years. It has also committed to ending fossil fuels by 2050. For the moment, the French government has not gone as far as the German, which has already urged citizens to take concrete measures, such as shorter showers or limiting the temperature of heating. However, in March, he described as “a good idea” the proposal of the head of Engie, Catherine MacGregor, to lower the temperature of the thermostat of the houses by one degree.
Solidarity will also be extended, if necessary, to other countries. France is trying to fill its gas deposits quickly – the idea is to reach “almost 100% by the end of autumn”, Macron has said – and is willing, he added, to “help the most dependent countries, such as Germany ”.
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Beyond the immediate need to reduce consumption, the president has underlined the urgency of accelerating the transition to renewable energies, for which he has announced the presentation, this summer, of an “urgent law to reduce delays” in plans in this sector. “We have to go much faster, today it takes 10 years to draw up a wind power plan offshore, but also solar energy”, he pointed out. According to the president, who after being accused of not doing enough to combat climate change promised during the campaign that he would entrust the ecological file “directly” to his prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, we are facing an emergency “that is already here” , has indicated in reference to the strong heat wave that France is experiencing this week and that has caused strong fires in various parts of the country.
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