Reporterre: The members of the Citizen Climate Convention rebel against Macron, Part 3/3

This is the third and last part of a translation of an article published by Reporterre following the aftermath of the French Citizen Climate Convention. Part 1, Part 2.

The situation mystifies the citizens. “We were sent to the front because government has to take responsibility”, says Willaim Aucant. “For us it is out of the question to re-debate our measures. We simply want to explain to those measures to all the actors”, he explains. The task is not simple. “France in its totality” is much more discordant than the allotted “France in miniature”.

“We are getting to a time when the citizens are going to come to reassert themselves”

“The government’s strategy is very clever”, observes Yolande Bouin. “While the cameras are trained on 150 regular folks, the executive short-circuits government bodies and civil society. We find ourselves the only ones speaking on the issue and the environmental organizations are completely marginalized. It’s absurd! We would like to have the doors of the ministries open to the activists, they know much better than us about the climate!” She regrets “the lack of countervailing powers and of oversight to monitor the actions of the executive”. The balance of powers is tilted. “The government dominates the discussion”, she emphasizes. In the media, the comments of the ministers are picked up more often than those of the citizens. The voices of the Convention’s guarantors, Cyril Dion and Laurence Tubiana, who are increasingly critical of the government, and of political supporters, like Matthieu Orphelin and Éric Piolle, do not get heard either.

“We are tired”, admits Grégoire Fraty, former president of the Association of the 150. “This experience, enriching as it is, has lasted for over a year. We all have jobs, family lives, it is complicated to find times in the evenings and the weekends for meetings and lectures”, he says. “It’s good to be in the midst of it, but at the end of the month that’s not what puts food on our tables.”

The citizens have not official standing, no legal existence. This weakness has already been observed by several legal experts such as Arnaud Gossement. “It is necessary to create a legal status for engaged citizens”, says Grégoire Fraty. As of now the citizens remain waiting. “For the moment, we do not boycott and do not throw a fit, but we would like to see things said clearly, truthfully and plainly”, he says.

According to him “We are getting to a time when the citizens are going to come to reassert themselves”. Each one with their sensibilities and with own approach to power. Some have even gone into politics like William Aucant and Mélanie Cosnier who have joined the lists of the Left Block and of the Ecologists in regional elections in Pays de Loire, along with former LRM MP Matthieu Orphelin. Other have decided to openly support environmental organizations. On October 22nd, Agnès Catoire came to testify at the trial of the activists who took down portraits of Macron in Paris city halls. This summmer Muriel Raulic has supported the bill against clear-cutting, promoted by the Canopée organization and by the France Insoumise MP Mathilde Panot.

The future of the Convention will play out at the local level as well. Assemblies are multiplying in the territories. They have received financial support of several territorial authorities. Conventions are spreading. Some municipalities wish to try this tool at their level. “We leave the gardens of the Élysée and the hushed corridors of the ministries to deal with concrete issues. That’s positive”, says Matthieu Sanchez. “We create this democratic experience outside the framework in which it was used before. We see that society is ripe and ready for change.”

The outcome of the CCC is just as uncertain. “The stakes remain decisive”, points out William Aucant. “Our measures are the basis if one wants to set an ecological transition into motion”, he says. “If the government refuses those, we are rushing toward a catastrophe. Not only will the climate not be saved but in addition it will discredit any new initiative of this type. After this, I don’t see what we can do to make us heard as citizens. It risks feeding the distrust of politics.”

2 Responses

  1. “France in its totality” is much more discordant than the allotted “France in miniature”.

    True, especially when we consider the profile of Convention members:

    Some have even gone into politics like William Aucant and Mélanie Cosnier who have joined the lists of the Left Block and of the Ecologists in regional elections in Pays de Loire, along with former LRM MP Matthieu Orphelin. Other have decided to openly support environmental organizations.

    M. Macron, however, has to govern in the interests of all the citizens, including the lorry drivers, agricultural workers and the whole basket of deplorables.

    Like

  2. The Guardian published an optimistic (without being completely naive) account of the CCC and other conventions in France

    Like

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