Macron pledges 15 bln euros to bolster ecological conversion after Greens sweep local elections

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PARIS, June 29 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced an investment package worth 15 billion euros (16.89 billion U.S. dollars) over the next two years to accelerate a switch to a more environment-friendly economic model.

"The state will take its full responsibility: an additional 15 billion euros over two years will be injected for the ecological conversion of our economy," Macron said when addressing members of the Citizens' Convention on Climate (CCC) at the Elysee Palace.

"We must put environment ambition at the heart of the productive model. It is by investing in clean transport, housing renovation and innovation in future industries that we will be able to meet challenges," he added.

The CCC, composed of 150 members selected randomly, emerged from the national consultations Macron had launched last year to quell social roar over fuel tax.

Based on shared expertise and in-depth consultations of the citizens, the initiative aims at finding adequate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in France by at least 40 percent in 2030.

Macron, who has put climate change at the heart of his presidency, backed almost all the CCC propositions, including the establishment of "ecocide," a serious offense against the environment, as a crime under French law.

Furthermore, the president said he was open to submit certain proposals to referendums from 2021, such as rewriting article 1 of the Constitution to introduce the concepts of biodiversity, environment, fight against global warming.

However, Macro disapproved of the council's proposition for a 4-percent tax on dividends to help fund new environmental policies, arguing it would discourage investments.

He also rejected lowering speed limits on highways from 130 to 100 kilometers per hour, saying "the ecological transition must not come at the cost of the most isolated regions."

Macron's new push of deliberative process in which citizens might usefully shape the country's future climate policies, came a day after the greens emerged winners from the two-round local elections, pointing to a spectacular surge of environmentally conscious voters.

European Ecologists and the Greens (EELV) won control of major cities including Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg. The party also claimed victory in Poitiers, Besancon, Annecy, Bastia and Tours, putting Macron's party on the back foot. (1 euro = 1.13 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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