1 January 2013

France’s great energy debate

Mycle Schneider

Schneider is an independent energy and nuclear policy consultant based in Paris. He has consulted for, among others, the Belgian energy minister, the French and German environment ministries,...

Many countries rethought their domestic nuclear power programs after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. In fact, even France—which generates half of the European Union’s nuclear electricity—has a new approach to nuclear power and to energy policy. President François Hollande vowed to reduce use of nuclear power, and his administration is moving to close the country’s two oldest reactors at Fessenheim. The government also plans to sponsor a large public debate on the future of energy policy in France, and that discussion is supposed to include all major stakeholders. It remains unclear, however, whether the debate will be a democratic exercise that influences the policy-making process, or if policy will continue to be determined by the technocratic elites who have guided France’s energy and nuclear programs from their outset.