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Macron Vows to End Fossil Fuels Use in Pitch to Green Voters

These translations are done via Google Translate

(Bloomberg)President Emmanuel Macron vowed to end the use of fossil fuels in France if re-elected, eight days before he faces far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a run-off election.Speaking at a campaign rally in the southern city of Marseille on Saturday, Macron said he would appoint a minister of energy planning whose mission “would be to make France the first great nation to exit oil, gas and coal.”

It’s an open question whether Macron could achieve full reliance on renewable energy in the span of a next term, which lasts five years. He didn’t estimate how long such a transition would take.

But in his appeal to voters concerned about the environment, he laid out an ambitious goal as well the commitment to upgrading the management of the transition from carbon. He stressed that the French economy, if driven by nuclear, solar and wind energy, would be more ecologically friendly.

Macron sought to draw a distinction with Le Pen, who says she doesn’t want France to be part of the European Commission’s proposed Green Deal, which seeks to accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions by 2030. While pledging to stick to the Paris climate accord, Le Pen wants to halt wind and solar development and scrap subsidies for such technology.

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Both Macron and Le Pen are eying the 7.7 million people who backed far-left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon in the April 10 first-round vote. The environment was at the center of Melenchon’s program and is often among the leading issues for French voters.

Melenchon had the most votes in Marseille in the first round despite Macron’s efforts to woo the electorate in France’s second most populous city. In 2021 Macron spent three days there, his longest official visit to any city since taking office in 2017, in a bid to ditch his image as a Parisian leader disconnected from the population. He once said his love for Marseille had no limit, and that he was a die-hard supporter of its OM soccer club.

Polls point to a victory for Macron in the final runoff ballot on April 24, and the gap between him and Le Pen has widened over the past week, according to a compilation of surveys. But it’s still likely to be a much tighter race than in the 2017 election, when Macron defeated her by more than 30 percentage points.

Le Pen is casting herself herself as a champion for the poor while portraying Macron as a president for the establishment and the wealthy.

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