50 proposals to overcome the COVID-19 crisis

10. April 2020

On 9 April 2020, the members of the French Climate Assembly "Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat" sent 50 proposals to overcome the COVID-19 crisis socially and ecologically to President Emmanuel Macron, as well as to the government and parliament.

Because the formal conclusion of the Climate Assembly was not possible at the time due to the Corona pandemic, the 150 randomly selected citizens wanted to make their voices heard in this way. They wanted to prevent what they saw as wrong measures from being taken to overcome the crisis. The proposals were developed during a two-day video conference.

"Since the 1960s, a rebound in carbon emissions has been observed after every crisis. This was still the case in 2008," explained economist Patrice Geoffron. The members of the Citizens' Assembly want to ensure that this development does not repeat itself. The financial resources mobilised in the context of crisis management should therefore be socially acceptable and geared towards green solutions, and investments should be made in climate-friendly sectors of the future.

The proposals

In the housing sector, citizens call for mandatory energy retrofitting of buildings by 2040. An investment plan for agriculture was also proposed, with a focus on short distances, favouring local, sustainable production with low environmental costs and limiting food transport. The creation of community farms and platforms to pool production should be encouraged.

Another measure is to combat soil sealing and urban sprawl to preserve biodiversity. Between 2021 and 2030, soil sealing per municipality is to be reduced to a quarter of the sealing between 2000 and 2020. The assembly participants demand an "immediate" stop to the development of new "space-intensive" commercial areas on the outskirts of the city and permission to seize vacant flats and offices. Energy consumption should be reduced when travelling.

Less space for cars

Assembly members also want to reduce the use of private cars, which are responsible for 16 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, there is to be an investment plan for public transport and for petrol-free cars. To encourage the purchase of low-emission vehicles, the Citizens' Assembly advocates a significant increase in the environmental bonus for the purchase of an electric car from the current 6,000 to 9,000 euros. In addition, a special bonus of 1,000 euros should be granted for the purchase of a used car, provided it is used for at least three years. Furthermore, the participants suggest that electric vehicles be granted special advantages, such as access to the city centre or free parking.

Furthermore, the Convention Citoyenne proposes the introduction of an interest-free loan for the purchase of electric vehicles. Secured by the state, it should cover both new and retrofitted vehicles. Low-income households are to benefit from a state-financed long-term leasing offer to give them access to more electric or hybrid vehicles at low cost. A national fund is to be established for this purpose.

More domestic production

Certain productions are to be brought back domestically to avoid transporting goods over thousands of kilometres and to ensure greater autonomy in the areas of food, energy and health. From 2023, advertising for the products that emit the most greenhouse gases in their production and operation is to be banned. The food supply is to be switched to healthier food and production methods. Local citizens' assemblies are to develop proposals for climate protection measures at the local level.

The aim of the proposals is to accelerate the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. France has so far set the year 2050 as its target. By 2025, every state subsidy should be "part of a logic of moving away from a model based on the use of fossil energies". The state is to finance research in areas with ecological potential.

Work ended in June 2020

There was actually no majority in the ranks of the assembly members for the broad publication of the recommendations, but they were leaked to the media after a short time. Critics complain that not all members of the Citizens' Assembly took part in the video conference for various reasons and therefore not all citizens could contribute.

The Climate Assembly has met on seven weekends since October 2019 and concluded its work on the weekend of 19 - 21 June 2020. The 150 members were randomly selected according to criteria such as gender, age, education, place of residence and migration background as a reflection of the entire population. The Convention Citoyenne has developed proposals on how France can reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2030. In their deliberations on this, the assembly members were supported by experts. President Macron had promised to pass on the proposals of the citizens by lot "unfiltered" to parliament and, if necessary, to let all French people vote on them in a referendum.