As part of a package of steps to curb carbon emissions announced by the government on July 27, heated terraces at French bars and restaurants will be banned beginning next year.
President Emmanuel Macron has vowed ambitious steps to combat climate change, saying that they would be at the heart of the COVID-19 economic stimulus recovery program.
But Mr. Macron was stung by allegations that with his green goals companies and poorer households still end up bearing the brunt of the costs.
Amid last year’s anti-government “yellow vest” demonstrations, he formed a Citizen’s Climate Convention, whose 150 randomly selected participants unveiled dozens of initiatives last month, including a ban on heating outdoor seating areas.
In 2008, when France expanded its indoor smoking ban to restaurants and bars, owners turned to them en masse, to the dismay of environmental campaigners protesting against a wasteful use of electricity or natural gas.
Although a number of French cities have already banned heated terraces, Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris has declined to allow companies to lose a large portion of their profits.
“People now realize that we’re at risk and that, if we don’t do something, after this health crisis we ‘re going to have an ecological crisis,” new Environment Minister Barbara Pompili told French daily Le Monde on July 27.
Building owners will be required to boost insulation, and installation of coal or fuel oil furnaces will be forbidden, among other steps to be enforced by decree in the coming months.
New construction restrictions will also be rolled out to restrict the “concretion” of natural resources, but the government has been holding off on an outright ban on new shopping malls outside cities that green activists have long requested.
The step, which came after a meeting of the top ministers’ environmental protection council of Mr. Macron on July 27, received a lukewarm response from environmental groups.
Greenpeace France’s Clement Senechal said they would “hold off any substantive reform until 2023, after Macron ‘s term finishes.”