Russia stopped natural gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline earlier this month in an apparent retaliation against Western Europe for supporting Ukraine. Macron asserted that turmoil from rising power prices is evidence that his nation ought to become energy independent, particularly through renewable sources.
“The war changed everything … it disrupted the European model, because many countries were depending on Russian gas for production,” Macron explained during a speech in the port city of Saint-Nazaire. “And clearly, for the first time, energy has become a weapon of war.”
Saint-Nazaire is the home to France’s only offshore wind farm. Among other measures, Macron aims to construct 50 more offshore wind facilities, as well as to multiply solar power generation tenfold. The proposal will also attempt to bring all of the nation’s 56 nuclear reactors — half of which are currently shut down for maintenance or repairs — back online before winter. France generated 69% of its electricity from nuclear power last year, according to data from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“We need a massive acceleration,” Macron continued. “I want us to go at least twice as fast for renewable energy projects… our neighbors often managed to do more, better and, above all, faster.”
The proposal comes weeks after Macron called for a 10% voluntary reduction in the nation’s energy usage, with mandatory consumption limits on the table as a “last resort.” He encouraged residents to use air conditioning and heating a “bit less than usual” to avoid power outages — such as by keeping indoor temperatures no more than 19 degrees Celsius, roughly 66 degrees Fahrenheit, through the winter.
Ministers in the European Union are contending with energy prices that have increased as much as twentyfold in some member states. In accordance with the European Green Deal and the Paris Climate Agreement, nations in the bloc abide by the official goal of becoming “a climate-neutral society” by 2050.
During a speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week, Macron asked diplomats to jointly pursue a “collective framework” for environmental treaties called the Global Pact for the Environment. “We must follow our consciences and radically overhaul the paradigms of our shared lives on this planet, and to this end we must forge ideas, notions and rules enabling us to lay the foundations of this new commitment,” Macron said.
As power prices continue to rise, however, manufacturers across Europe have paused operations through the winter. French glass manufacturer Duralex, for instance, announced that it would close down furnaces beginning in November for at least four months.
Unlike leaders in the European Union, incoming British Prime Minister Liz Truss responded to high energy prices by pushing for increased oil and gas production, as well as nuclear power and other green sources. The British government announced a new round of oil and gas leases on Thursday for the North Sea and ended its moratorium on shale gas production — including the practice of fracking, by which pressurized liquid is injected into underground rocks to force open fissures and extract fuels. The prohibition was initially established in 2019 amid concerns over earthquakes.