Jospin promises action on energy efficiency

French government seeks to salvage green reputation after fuel tax concessions

French prime minister Lionel Jospin yesterday promised a new national drive for increased energy efficiency, which he said would help to mitigate the impact of high oil prices by helping consumers and businesses to reduce consumption. Mr Jospin said that the plan would be launched later this year by environment minister Dominique Voynet.

The initiative was announced during Mr Jospin's opening speech at a session of international climate change talks now underway in Lyon. It has been universally greeted by the domestic and international media as an attempt to claw back some environmental credibility after the French government last week capitulated to anti-fuel tax protesters (ENDS Daily 6 September).

France already has a national plan designed to meet its Kyoto Protocol target of stabilising greenhouse gas emissions by 2008-2012 based on 1990 levels (ENDS Daily 20 January). The new plan is expected to focus on transport, improving residential energy efficiency and will include a large publicity campaign.

Mr Jospin has also confirmed that France's general pollution tax (known as TGAP) will be extended next year to include energy (ENDS Daily 30 May). Reminiscent of the UK's approach, energy-intensive industries could be exempt but, if so, would be expected to sign voluntary agreements to reduce emissions.

Follow Up:
French prime minister's office, tel: +33 1 42 75 80 00; Mr Jospin's speech.

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