BNP Paribas, AXA, Danone, and Total among over 90 leading businesses to call on government to deliver recover plan that drives 'ecological transition'
Over 90 of France's largest businesses have issued a public call for the government to prioritise the country's 'ecological transition' in its economic recovery plans, reiterating their commitment to climate action.
In a letter to Le Monde organised by think tank Entreprises pour l'Environnement, a raft of leading corporates urged the government to "channel a large proportion of the financial resources earmarked for economic recovery into the areas already identified as supporting ecological transition".
The letter was backed by France-based multinationals and companies with a significant presence in the country, including BNP Paribas, LVMH, AXA, Suez, Danone, Saint-Gobain, Société Générale, Schneider, Alstom, and EDF, as well as BASF, Generali, Siemens, Bayer, GE, Deloitte, and Arcelor-Mittal.
The letter was also backed by oil giant Total, which today became the latest fossil fuel giant to announce net zero plans, and Air France-KLM, which is currently in negotiations with the government over a bailout package that is set to include a range of environmental conditions.
"We stand by our collective ecological transition ambitions and reaffirm the commitments we have made over the years, since continuing our efforts is the key to their success," the group stated, adding that France's planned recovery package "can be a powerful catalyst for a green and inclusive recovery".
Specifically, the group urged the government to up short- and medium-term support for green sectors that have high job creation potential, such as energy efficiency upgrades, clean power and grid projects, and electric vehicle infrastructure.
It also called for public investment to be allocated to help decarbonize and enhance the resilience of Europe's industrial facilities and urged Ministers to boost clean tech R&D and demonstration funding.
"To address the crisis beyond the short term, we will need to deploy collective intelligence in the post- pandemic world, envision far-reaching changes to our methods of production, business models, consumer behaviour and lifestyles, and rethink our relationship with nature," the letter concluded. "Let us use the present challenge we are facing together as an opportunity for us all to put the environment at the core of a collective rebound."
The letter follows a similar intervention last week from around 60 German companies and joins a growing chorus of calls across Europe for governments to prioritise climate action in their recovery plans. It comes as a major study that surveyed over 200 of the world's top economist revealed widespread confidence that an environmentally-focused stimulus packages would prove better for both the environment and the economy.
Meanwhile, French economy minister Bruno Le Maire yesterday reiterated that the planned €7bn loan to Air France was contingent on its becoming "the most environmentally respectful airline" after the European Commission yesterday confirmed the planned bailout did not breach state aid rules.
"It is obvious that today a number of domestic routes are no longer justified," Le Maire told France Inter radio. "When you can travel by train in less than two and a half hours, there is no justification for taking a plane."
And in related news, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband yesterday called on the UK government to engineer closer co-operation between the public and private sector through its recovery plans, requiring companies in tax havens who want support to come back onshore and being willing to take a stake in bailed out companies so as to drive a recovery focused on delivering the UK's strategic priorities.
Writing in the Guardian, Miliband specifically called for the government to deliver a recovery plan that accelerate climate action. "We know that the climate emergency is a challenge we can simply no longer afford to ignore," he said. "Let's create an army of zero carbon workers, retraining and redeploying those who can't work into different industries, from home insulation to wind turbine manufacture to tree planting."
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Rebuilding could create a fairer society that reduces the risk of environmental disasters that always hit the vulnerable hardest, writes Hubbub's Trewin Restorick