Macron urges the French to save energy and seeks to cut use by 10%
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a sharp 10% cut in the country’s energy use in the coming weeks and months to avoid the risks of rationing and cuts this winter, amid tensions with supplier Russia over the war in Ukraine..
Macron warned on Monday that forced energy savings may have to be considered in the coming months if voluntary efforts are not enough. He said energy rationing plans are being prepared “in case” they are needed, and that “cuts will occur as a last resort.”
“The best energy is the one we don’t consume,” the French president said at a press conference, urging French companies and families to save energy, including by turning down heating and air conditioning.
France is among many European countries tightening their belts as energy costs soar. The main Russian pipeline carrying natural gas to Germany remains shut down, and the European Commission chief says the EU electricity market is ‘no longer working’ Amidst the spillover effects of the Ukraine war.
Macron did not explain how the 10% energy saving target would be set or measured. Many French homes have already begun to curb gas and electricity use due to rising prices, but not everyone will heed Macron’s call. Last week, the French Prime Minister raised the specter of a two-hour household blackout In the winter if no solutions are found.
Speaking after a video conference on Monday with German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, Macron announced a plan to increase gas supplies to Germany from France to offset reduced Russian gas supplies from the east. In return, Macron said Germany would continue to supply France with electricity to make up for the shortfall caused by the ongoing maintenance of several French nuclear reactors.
The leaders spoke ahead of an emergency meeting of European Union energy ministers on Friday about how the continent will coordinate heating this winter if Russia cuts off gas supplies.
Macron said France and Germany supported the idea of asking energy companies that make big profits from the recent rise in gas and oil prices to make a “contribution” to the public coffers.
French opposition activists and politicians have called in recent days for a tax on “super-profitable” oil and gas companies amid Europe’s energy crisis.
Macron avoided using the word tax, instead saying that he and Schulze support “a European contribution mechanism required of energy companies whose production costs are well below the market selling price”.
Macron has also spoken in favor of a cap on Russian gas prices, which EU leaders are also pushing.
The French president reiterated his opposition, however, to increasing pipeline capacity from neighboring Spain to eventually supply gas and other energy sources to the rest of Europe. Macron argued that the two existing gas pipelines between Spain and France are only used at 53% capacity.
“I don’t understand why we jump like pyrenean goats in this thread to say this will solve the problem. We need more electrical connections,” he said. I am not convinced that we need more gas bonds, the consequences of which are greater, especially on the environment and ecosystems,”
Iberia has many LNG plants but there is little way to transport the gas to the rest of Europe, unless a new, much larger pipeline is built. Meanwhile, the European Union seeks to move away completely from gas in the long term.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine