Climate change not part of the French presidential campaign

Barely 4.6% of the vote. This is the score of the environmental candidate for the 2022 presidential election . A bad result which is surprising , when the urgency to fight against global warming is in everyone’s mind. With Jean-Luc Mélenchon , considered to be as ecologist as the ecologist, we barely reach 30%. Sunday April 10, Yannick Jadotwas surprised that the issue of the century did not attract more voters than that and regretted that ecology was “absent from the second round”, arguing that “these vital issues have been largely ignored in this confiscated campaign “. This was the refrain of the Greens in recent days to explain their announced debacle: if their candidate does not print, it is because there is no talk of ecology in the campaign.

However, there were plenty of opportunities to talk about the climate emergency. Two sections of the IPCC report were published during the campaign , overshadowed by the war in Ukraine . A march for the climate was organized on March 12 , in which Yannick Jadot, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Anne Hidalgo took part . Then a second, Saturday April 9, on the eve of the first round, to alert one last time before the French go to the polls.

In fact, despite the alerts and the mobilization, the climate had very little place in the campaign and in the media. At the beginning of February, the associations at the origin of the Case of the Century, which condemned the State for its insufficient action in the face of global warming , calculated that only 2.7% of the air time of the campaign was devoted to the topic. When the candidates are on TV sets, they are rarely questioned about ecology, or very briefly… Except for Yannick Jadot, the environmental candidate. As if the subject was the prerogative of a single party, as if immigration was a debate to which only the far right would be brought.

To the great regret of Jean-François Julliard , Managing Director of Greenpeace France, who believes that “the subject has not had the place it deserves in the debate”. A series of candidate interviews entirely devoted to ecology has been organized, but on the online platform Twitch . “We had asked several media, none wanted to schedule this debate”, regrets Abdoulaye Diarra, member of Our affair with all, one of the associations of the Affair of the century. “We see that it is constantly relayed in the background. »

The environment is however, behind purchasing power and the war in Ukraine (or the Covid-19 crisis before the Russian offensive), regularly cited as one of the priorities of the French in opinion polls. So most of the candidates deal with the subject in their program, an improvement compared to 2017. No one denies the urgency anymore. But the proposals are rarely up to par. Apart from Yannick Jadot and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the various ratings of the programs organized by the NGOs deemed them insufficient. The Affair of the Century coalition considered in particular that it is “improbable” that Emmanuel Macron and Valérie Pécresse will manage to get France out of illegality with their proposals.

When you’re on an election campaign, it’s hard to play the role of the bad cop who comes to ask the French to make efforts to fight against an evil that is still difficult to grasp. “Politicians know that it does not bring in many voters, so it is more or less knowingly that they avoid talking about it”, analyzes Daniel Boy, research director at Cevipof and specialist in political ecology. The environment may well be the third priority of the French, the first two, in particular purchasing power, crush everything. “The immediate and the concrete count a lot, we always have this problem between the end of the world and the end of the month. »

“Several candidates have nothing to do with ecology, others have a poor grasp of the subject and do not put it forward or have answers that are not at all up to the challenges,” agrees Jean-François Julliard. . The only proposal in the field of ecology that has managed to occupy the debate is nuclear power, between the construction of new reactors announced by Emmanuel Macron and the war in Ukraine which forces us to address the question of our energy independence.vis-à-vis Russia. In the debate, the right claps on wind turbines, the left – the communist Fabien Roussel apart – calls for a more or less rapid exit from nuclear power by developing renewables. Sticking to the opposition between the types of energy has the advantage of being a “much less complicated” debate than really talking about ecology, believes Daniel Boy.

“30% of French people who voted for ecology, that’s not bad, but we find ourselves at the end with a second round between candidates who do not shine with their ecological action, regrets Jean-François Julliard. It shows that we collectively suffer from the lack of a collective imagination to think about what an ecological society would look like, which many imagine as sad. “” There is a distortion between the concerns of the people and the vote, notes an elected municipal ecologist. There is a big concern about air quality, and yet, as soon as you say you are going to reduce the car in town, it is the bronca. »

A delicate position for anyone wishing to take environmental measures, condemned to play the bad role that elected officials would like to avoid, analyzes a dean of EELV. “We are the messengers of bad news. We try to say that we need joyful sobriety, but what joy does the average citizen have in eating less meat, driving less quickly? According to the ecologist, it is difficult to raise awareness as long as people are not directly confronted with the effects of climate change. “One day, when we are at + 2 degrees, when we have had a nuclear accident, people will demand accountability. But it will be too late. »