Policy paper 265

the French and the environment


Only in French.

The authors would like to warmly thank Arnault Barichella, Camille Defard, Marie Delair, Louna Gauvin and Sébastien Maillard for their valuable comments.

1st ▪ While both health and economic topics are seen as the most pressing problems, the environmental issue, whether it is at an individual, national or EU level, still ranks relatively high in terms of priority for the French public opinion. In comparison with other Member State, French is ahead of the EU average (27) but behind Northern countries. French citizens equally believe that tacking climate change should happen at national and European level; this create greater expectations in terms of public policies.

2nd French citizens favor supporting measures (subsidies, loans) rather than changes that have a direct impact on their purchasing power. While a large majority support ecological actions or energy retrofits, French people are more reluctant when it comes to shifting habits regarding mobility (EVs, speeding limit…). Quite surprisingly, even after the yellow vests movement, a majority (54%) of the French public opinion is in favor of carbon taxation and this number goes even higher (76%) if there is a guarantee that household’s purchasing power is not negatively impacted, and that all the money is directed towards the ecological transition. Finally, the European Green Deal benefits from a high acceptance rate as the EU is seen as having the critical size to opera efficient change.

3rd Young French citizens are more likely to vote for someone, based on environmental considerations. However age does not explain everything as diploma, gender as well as a feeling of unease and social weakness all play a part. For some low-income young people, climate anxiety can be one facet of a broader concern about their situation and the overall situation of the country.

Based on this analysis, and one year ahead of the French Presidential (France’s cornerstone election is scheduled in April 2022) and legislative elections (June 2022) we issue those recommendation:

  • each candidate should have an ambitious program when it comes to environmental protection otherwise he/she would not be taken seriously by many of his/her potential voters. It will also allow candidate to address the concerns of the French people.
  • for this programme to be seen as serious by French citizens, it must have a strong EU dimension as voters consider EU action on climate to be critical .