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Le Pen tears into Macron over ‘fiasco’ policy as French leader faces election crisis

The news comes as the French President vowed to move more towards nuclear energy and away from fossil fuels, yet recent reports by BFM TV claim the Ministry of Ecological Transition will issue a decree to re-start coal-fired plants in the near future. With the presidential race fast becoming more than a two-horse race, with the surging popularity of Eric Zemmour from the far-right, and Valerie Pecresse from the centrist movements, pressure is on Ms Le Pen and Mr Macron to maintain the momentum of their campaigns.

Taking to Twitter to vent her anger at Mr Macron’s policy, Ms Le Pen wrote: “Macron had promised to close coal-fired power plants, but he will increase their use by almost 50% this year.”

She added: “The government’s energy policy is a complete fiasco and it is still the French who pay!”

France relies on its coal-fired power plants being active to avoid shortages this winter.

However, with increasing energy prices across Europe, as well as shortages in supplies of gas, France appears to be stuck in a catch-22 situation.

Thanks to the upcoming decree, the Cordemais and Saint-Avold power plants will be able to produce more this winter.

It is believed CO2 emissions will increase, but temporarily, the government assures.

They are harmful to the environment but faced with the risk of electricity shortages, French coal-fired power plants will increase their production this winter.

The Ministry of Ecological Transition has put out for consultation a draft decree that should allow a temporary increase in the ceiling of production time of these plants.

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Power stations in Cordemais, in Loire Atlantique and Saint-Avold, in Moselle, are the last two in activity which are going to be put to work.

Between them, they represent one percent of the French electrical production.
They are especially useful as backup options, especially during winter consumption peaks, when it is cold and when there is a lack of wind to fire up wind farms.

The draft decree put out to consultation until January 20 allows these plants to run for up to 1,000 hours in January and February alone, and for 600 hours for the rest of 2022.

In total, Cordemais and Saint Avold will be able to operate beyond twice the legal limit, which currently stands at 700 hours per year.

Yet for Mr Macron the move has led some to question his true ambition when it comes to closing down coal-fired plants, with asking whether he is truly committed to the pledge.

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The Ministry of Ecological Transition has hit out at Mr Macron following the latest move.

A spokesperson for the body said: “This increase in the ceiling of use is temporary.”

The power station of Saint-Avold is supposed to close in spring and that of Cordemais in 2024.

But with this decree, one million additional tons of CO2 which will be poured into the atmosphere by keeping them open.

France already emits 450 million tons per year.

With the shortages of energy supplies comes an unprecedented shutdown of up to 15 French nuclear reactors.

The closures come from maintenance and lockdowns during the pandemic.
Under these conditions, the electricity network manager, RTE, has warned about the security of the electricity supply this winter.

For Ms Len Pen, the move could be an ideal opportunity to strike a blow towards the President.

Energy is a key election point for French voters and Mr Macron’s management of the crisis will be closely scrutinised by the public in the coming months.