France Senate blocks Macron’s plan to enshrine climate change fight in constitution
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France Senate blocks Macron’s plan to enshrine climate change fight in constitution

The French Senate voted Monday against a government-sponsored bill that would add a climate clause to the French constitution. President Emmanuel Macron had promised a referendum to include environmental protection in the heart of French constitutional principles, but the bill needed to pass both the National Assembly and the Senate.

During the Senate debate, Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Morretti thanked the 150 members of the Citizen’s Convention for the Climate for proposing a constitutional bill to amend the first article of the French constitution. Under the proposed bill, the French constitution’s first article would be revised to state:

France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It ensures equality before the law of all citizens without distinction of origin, race or religion. It respects all beliefs. It guarantees the preservation of the environment and biological diversity and the fight against climate change. Its organization is decentralized.

The law promotes equal access of women and men to electoral mandates and elective functions, as well as to professional and social responsibilities.

However, as Dupond-Morretti noted, Senate members disagreed over two of the proposed bill’s words—specifically “guarantees” and “fight.” Thus, the Senate voted to amend the bill by replacing “guarantees the preservation of” with “preserves,” and replacing “the fight” with “acts.” Though the National Assembly compromised to replacing “fight,” it voted to keep “guarantees.” Still, the Senate voted to eliminate “guarantees.”

The National Assembly could have amended the bill to satisfy the Senate’s request, but French Prime Minister Jean Castex decided not to pursue the initiative. Castex said, “This vote, alas, puts an end to the process of amending the constitution, which we continue to believe is essential for our country. It’s deeply regrettable.”