Pierre Madelin, essayist and translator, is the author of various books on environmental issues, including Should we put an end to civilization? Primitivism and collapse (Ecosociety, 2020). He just published The Ecofascist Temptation. Ecology and the extreme right (Ecosociety, 272 p., €18).
Recently, the National Rally (RN) wants to occupy the field of ecology. The party’s president, Jordan Bardella, recently declared: “We must not leave ecology to the left. What characterizes RN’s new discourse on the environment?
Faced with changes in society, the RN has taken up various issues for several years that it had neglected before. This is the case for women’s rights, the LGBT cause and, now, ecology. This recovery is essentially due to opportunism. The majority of French people are concerned about global warming, the battle of sensitivities has been won by ecology, and evading it would risk discrediting the RN with part of its electorate. Hence this desire, today, to plug the breaches.
The party promotes localism, Jordan Bardella praising, for example, French agricultural production, which he presents as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from imports. Relying on the territories would therefore make it possible to resolve the ecological crisis. Localism serves as a gateway to the identity and nationalist themes to which the RN is attached.
Criticism of renewable energy is another important element of this new discourse of the far-right party on the environment. Wind turbines are particularly targeted. They would contravene localism, because they would be imposed without consultation in the territories. Conversely, nuclear power is defended, it represents in the eyes of the RN a base on which to sit the energy sovereignty of France and makes it possible to decarbonize the economy. We see there that the RN remains strongly impregnated by its liberal, productivist and techno-solutionist background which has historically defined its relationship to ecology.
Exactly, what was Jean-Marie Le Pen’s speech on ecology?
It is generally hostile to the protection of the environment, with sometimes climatosceptic overtones. In 2017, for example, he declared that “without global warming we would die of cold”. In another genre, he compared, in 1989, the environmentalist party to a watermelon, explaining that its members were green on the outside, red on the inside. The RN’s discourse on ecology has therefore always been marked by rejection or indifference.
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