The French government is doubling down on calls for energy savings amid rising prices and the war in Ukraine, Bloomberg reports.
Agnes Pannier-Runacher, minister for energy transition, said the measures include a ban on light advertising at night, except in train stations and airports, and preventing shops from keeping doors open when the air conditioning is on or the heating. This will allow businesses to reduce their energy bills by 20%, she said in an interview with Journal du Dimanche.
The comments come after Emmanuel Macron warned that efforts would be needed to reduce consumption during his Bastille Day interview earlier this month. Macron, who once blasted the “Amish model” of those promoting energy sobriety to tackle climate change, also accused Russia of “weaponizing” gas supplies.
At the same time, the government is considering further fuel subsidies amid rising prices at petrol stations. “In the medium term, we need to support the French in their energy transition, but in the short term we need to adapt to reality,” Pannier-Runacher said.
The European Union has proposed that the bloc reduce natural gas consumption by 15% over the next eight months.
The minister reiterated on Sunday the target to reduce energy use by 40% by 2050 and by 10% by 2024, thanks to conservation, energy efficiency, renewables and nuclear power. Although France is less dependent on Russian gas than some neighbors, it has been hampered by issues at its nuclear plants, which provide more than half of the country’s energy.
Macron urged companies, citizens and local governments to work on contingency plans during the summer to avoid a difficult winter as Europe grapples with its worst energy supply crisis in decades.
Pannier-Runacher also urged companies to promote lower speeds on roads. Stricter state-mandated speed limits, combined with fuel taxation, had contributed to the emergence of the grassroots Yellow Vest movement to protest economic inequality in 2018.
He said ordinances would be introduced next week that would unlock the production of 10 gigawatts of solar and wind power, as well as biogas.