Emmanuel Macron proposes French referendum to add climate change to the constitution

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By Rachael Kennedy  with AP
Emmanuel Macron said he would like to amend the French constitution to involve climate change
Emmanuel Macron said he would like to amend the French constitution to involve climate change   -  Copyright  Thibault Camus/AP

Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to hold a referendum in France on whether to change the constitution to reflect the fight against climate change and protecting the environment.

The French president, who was speaking to the Citizen's Convention on Climate, stressed the nation needed to "keep moving forward" now that the work is "even more urgent".

"Should we do more?" Macron asked, later answering: "Yes" to his own question.

The statement was a brief part of a four-hour discussion on Monday involving dozens of French citizens who had been randomly picked to propose ways to cut emissions.

The topic of amending the nation's constitution to include environmental commitments was first proposed by the Convention in June - and now appears to have presidential approval.

It would just need to pass votes in the lower house of parliament and the Senate to go ahead.

Thibault Camus/AP
The Convention first raised constitutional amendments in JuneThibault Camus/AP

Macron also acknowledged that France was not yet doing enough to tackle global warming as the country had been missing its targets on the Paris Agreement.

Much of these efforts have also been delayed until next year.

On Friday, EU leaders agreed to strengthen targets for 2030, now pledging to reduce greenhouse gases to at least 55% compared with 1990 levels. Previous targets were at 40%.

It also comes as US President-elect Joe Biden reaffirmed his focus on climate change, promising to re-join the Paris accord on his first day as president.

The last referendum to be held in France was in 2005, which asked citizens whether they supported the notion of a European constitution.

This was rejected in a defeat for then president Jacques Chirac.