Enshrine Green Rights in French Constitution, Chirac Urges

PARIS, France, May 7, 2001 (ENS) - France should promise its citizens a "protected and preserved" environment as one of their constitutional rights, President Jacques Chirac said Thursday. A green expansion of human rights is warranted in the face of a growing "collective fear" about the consequences of environmental damage, he declared.

Chirac

Jacques Chirac has been President of France since 1995. (Photos courtesy Office of the President)
In his most important environmental speech to date, delivered in the city of Orléans, Chirac said that the time has come to enshrine five principles in law. These are: environmental responsibility; the precautionary principle; integration of environmental issues into all sectors; damage prevention; and citizen participation.

Chirac said that the country's energy policy is one of the chief issues the government must face if it is to improve the public's long term environmental quality of life.

A well known supporter of nuclear power, Chirac nonetheless stated that no one energy source should provide too large a share of the nation's energy requirements and called for "acceleration" of rates of renewable energy generation.

Four other policy aims should be placed high up the political agenda, the President said. These are: the preservation and management of natural environments, improvement to urban quality of life, a greening of freight transport networks, and achieving sustainable industrial development.

Chirac repeated his support for the creation of a global environmental governance body, first proposed last June. He said it should be modelled on the United Nations's World Health Organization or World Labour Organization.

Chirac

French President Jacques Chirac at work in his office
The proposed global environmental body would give coherence to a "fragmented" series of international green conventions, Italian environment minister Willer Bordon and his French counterpart Dominique Voynet said last June. The call follows a suggestion made by Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, for creation of a new global judiciary body for the environment.

The French press has greeted the President's most outspoken comments on environmental issues with caution. Several papers Friday questioned his sincerity and suggested that he might be positioning himself as "eco-friendly" ahead of next year's presidential elections, in which he is expected to face current prime minister Lionel Jospin.

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