France's Citizens' Convention for the Climate
A Citizens' Convention for the Climate convened by the French government met for the first time on the weekend. Its members, 150 French citizens selected according to demographic criteria, have until January to work out socially acceptable proposals for mitigating climate change. Commentators doubt they are cut out for the task and question their democratic legitimacy.
Well meant but doomed from the outset
While the idea is good the high expectations are unrealistic, La Tribune comments:
“The Citizens' Convention for the Climate must now find a solution to the equation by proposing strong and gutsy measures whose merit will be that they don't come from above but were developed by the collective intelligence of citizens put in the role of decision-makers, far from - one would hope at least - the influence of lobbies. What constraints are we ready to accept, as individuals and members of a community, in order to save the planet from global warming? How can we achieve this and at the same time reconcile the environment and the economy, growth and the planet, employment and quality of life? Let's be realistic: it's far more likely that this mountain [as in La Fontaine's fable] will give birth to a mouse - albeit a green one.”
An anti-democratic disgrace
The Citizens' Convention poses a threat to democracy, writes climate change sceptic Benoît Rittaud in Valeurs actuelles:
“Something very important is at stake here: the credibility of our republican institutions. Such a masquerade can certainly create an illusion among all those who don't look too closely or who - not having studied the subject themselves and relying on prevailing opinion - prefer to say that 'it's all for the better'. With this Convention Emmanuel Macron is making a mockery of a democratic tool par excellence, namely public debate, turning it into a simple validation chamber for policies which have clearly been decided in advance.”