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Macron’s Luddite Charter: Grimly Predictable and Utterly Unworkable

Harry Wilkinson, Global Vision

Climate Assemblies have been hijacked by green activists and their proposals are characterised by a backward-looking, anti-growth mindset.

President Macron had a cunning plan. Riled by the gilets jaunes, he desperately needed to shift responsibility for the controversial and expensive climate policies that had driven the French people to the streets. And so he turned to La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (citizens’ assembly on climate), a body of 150 randomly chosen members of the public, hoping that they could provide a veneer of democratic legitimacy for his ambitious emissions targets.

How naïve that strategy has turned out to be. We have just been given a first look at the assembly’s disastrous plan. Dictated by green activists, the assembly’s proposals bear all the hallmarks of the anti-technology, anti-population mindset that has come to characterise the green movement. This is a luddite’s charter for the 21st century.

Grimly predictable. Utterly unworkable. They leave Macron facing exactly the same awkward balancing act of trying to appease the green mob while protecting the economy, only now with a global recession to deal with too. 

The plan is extensive, and will only grow in scope. So far, only 50 out of an eventual 150 proposals have been published, but they reveal a backward-looking attempt to apply the principles of organic farming to the entire economy. 

Shopping, travelling and indeed food production are all affected. Out-of-town hypermarkets will be closed to encourage shopping locally, and the 5G network is to be abandoned because it uses more electricity than the existing infrastructure. 50% of agricultural land will be made to adhere to ‘agro-ecology’ practices by 2040. 

The panel also intends to ban cars that emit more than 110g of CO2 per kilometre by 2025. This is far below the level permitted by most existing vehicles, and leaves little time for people to purchase new vehicles. Effectively, it means that driving becomes a luxury enjoyed only by a tiny minority.

Advertising hoardings too will be banned, to deter people buying products that the assembly deem ‘they do not need’. Television, radio, internet and press advertisements for products generating high levels of CO2 are all to be banned, and those that are authorised will have to carry the sinister warning: “Do you really need this? Overconsumption harms the planet.”

The luddite resistance to the division of labour is being neatly mirrored by modern environmentalists, who envisage unravelling highly specialised global supply chains. With le bon sauvage in mind, they invoke the fantasy of returning to an imagined sustainable past in which the profit motive does not exist, everything is produced locally, and people only consume what they ‘need’. 

This is economic illiteracy. In practice, the mere attempt to reach this supposed utopia would condemn the poor to higher prices and intolerable levels of coercion. At the root of this delusion is a fundamental failure to appreciate the benefits of specialisation and the prosperity that it gives rise to. That specialisation also allows for the more efficient production of all goods, to the extent that in many developed countries resource use is now falling. The forced localisation of production would have the opposite effect, leading to greater land use and greater resource consumption. 

It is no surprise that the Convention Citoyenne came to such conclusions, for it has been carefully engineered to deliver a particular outcome. At its heart is the governance committee, which has been conveniently co-chaired by the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, a prominent and well-funded green lobby group, and the CEO of Terra Nova, a left wing think tank. With control of the agenda, they have been allowed to shape the discussions and invite experts of their choosing. 

If you thought this sort of thing could not happen in Britain, think again. The European Climate Foundation is also playing a significant role in Britain’s own version of this charade: Climate Assembly UK. It is not only providing a significant share of the funding, but also has strong links to many of the invited speakers and participating organisations. We can expect that body to come up with similarly absurd suggestions.

Make no mistake, climate assemblies are not balanced forums for open debate, but an elaborate ploy by politicians desperate to shift responsibility for policies they know will be costly and damaging. Radical green groups have quickly capitalised on this opportunity to give a false democratic legitimacy to their backward-looking neo-luddite agenda. Genuine environmental progress does not need to come with perpetual green austerity. It’s time to stop this dangerous anti-growth movement in its tracks.

This article was originally published by Global Vision.

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