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Ferréol Delmas: Refounding the ecological right in France

Ferréol Delmas is the director general of the French environmental think tank Ecologie Responsable, a partner of the Conservative Environment Network.

The centre-right in France has ecology in its genes. This political family can be proud of its achievements in this area: the creation of the first Ministry of Ecology in 1971 by President Pompidou; the Charter of the Environment, which enshrines in the Constitution that "everyone has the right to live in a balanced environment that respects their health", adopted in 2004 at the initiative of President Jacques Chirac; and the Grenelle de l'environnement, in 2009, led by Nicolas Sarkozy, to increase energy efficiency, to name a few.

Despite this commendable record, French voters still do not consider the right to be deeply concerned about ecology. To many, the right seems old-fashioned, with Les Republicains (the main centre-right party) finishing with only 4.8% in the 2022 presidential elections, and losing a large number of parliamentarians (62 deputies in 2023 against 365 in 2003). The party of former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (Horizons) is on the centre-right and supports Macron’s government, but it is far from a mass movement with just 29 MPs. More worryingly, in the last municipal elections in 2019, large cities like Marseille and Bordeaux previously run by the right were won by the green left.

It is clear that the French right must once again refound itself by taking up the question of the environment. This is why our think tank, Ecologie Responsable, wants to put ecology at the centre of the concerns of right-wing leaders, inspired by the work carried out, for example, in the UK by the Conservative Environment Network.

This refoundation requires the development of a way of thinking that combines ecology and innovation. Technical progress is essential to ensure our environmental destiny: artificial intelligence to store data, hydrogen to decarbonise the economy, and green growth. We must also talk about regional planning and rural areas. This change requires more public transport in rural areas, a better understanding of agricultural issues, and greater decentralisation.

With this programme, the right and the centre-right can once again address both the urban and rural population. According to a 2020 survey, 67% of French right-wingers think that the right does not embody ecology enough. This figure is 90% for young people aged 18 to 35. It seems urgent to think about a political offer that responds to this large population that wants an ambitious ecological policy but not degrowth. The ecology advocated by the right and the centre-right, in order to succeed, must combine conservation of our land and green liberalism. This is the way to victory!


Views expressed in this blog are those of the author, not necessarily those of the Conservative Environment Network. If you are a CEN supporter, councillor, or parliamentarian and would like to write for the CEN blog, please email your idea to


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