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Heater ban on cafe terraces among new set of green measures in France

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French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili (L) and French Junior Minister for Biodiversity Berangere Abba
French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili (L) and French Junior Minister for Biodiversity Berangere Abba   -   Copyright  GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP
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A ban on outdoor heaters at restaurants, more efficient domestic heating systems and two new regional parks.

France on Monday committed to fresh measures aimed at moving towards a more environmentally-friendly economy.

The changes, recommended by citizens' council on climate, will be introduced into law later this year and begin to take effect from January 2021.

"We would like to advance rapidly but we would like to do so with concrete [solutions]," said Barbara Pompili, France's new minister for ecological transition.

From 2022, oil and coal boilers will be replaced by heating systems that "pollute less", announced Emmanuelle Wargon, an ecology minister for housing.

The government will also issue measures that target the "completely unjustified overconsumption" of resources, which includes prohibiting outdoor restaurant terraces from using heaters.

We cannot "for the simple comfort of it" have outdoor air conditioning in 30-degree weather nor "heat at full power terraces in winter when it's 0 degrees out for the simple pleasure of drinking our coffee on a terrace while warm," Pompili said.

The country will also commit to protecting 30 per cent of its land, in an effort to safeguard biodiversity. This will involve the designation of two regional parks and a nature reserve.

The measures also include changes to buildings by 2023, including criteria to force landlords to pay for changes to housing that consumes 500-kilowatt hours per square metre of heating per year, according to AFP.

But environmentalists were unimpressed.

The government's "audacity of staging and increasing of events is not enough to mask the emptiness of [this proposal]. Once again the ecological transition is stalling," said Clément Sénéchal, who leads Greenpeace France's climate campaign.

"On housing, Barbara Pompili essentially reiterates insignificant provisions already provided for in the law voted last year, which postpones any change to 2023, outside of this five-year administration," he added.

"Unfortunately, we are not going to prevent the glaciers from melting, because it is already too late, but we will accelerate the transition of our model, prepare our economy for the ecological crisis, for the social consequences it can have," Pompili said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde.

Pompili is a former Green party representative and previously worked on biodiversity in the socialist government of Manuel Valls. She became the new ecology minister after a government reshuffle earlier this month that many experts have described as a move to the right for Macron's administration.

Members of the citizens' council on climate had also called for a moratorium on new commercial shopping centres, a demand which has been sent to the president and prime minister, ecological ministers said.

Pompili said that the government would like to divide in two the construction of new buildings over the next decade.

"We're talking about changing a model of urban development that has been in place for decades. That doesn't change just like that by snapping your fingers," Pompili said, explaining that people need to be acclimated to this change.