Macron Taps Former TV Show Host As Environment Minister

REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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French President Emmanuel Macron brought on Nicolas Hulot, an environmentalist who hosted a TV nature show, as his environment minister.

Hulot’s presence in Macron’s cabinet boosts the new president’s green credentials, but it’s sent stocks in EDF — France’s state-owned utility — spiralling downward. Hulot is an anti-nuclear power activist and will carry out Macron’s promise to decrease France’s reliance on nukes for electricity.

“The market is reacting negatively to Hulot’s appointment. There is a fear of a stricter ecological line given Hulot’s history as an environmental campaigner,” Andrea Tueni, an analyst with Saxo Bank, told Reuters Wednesday.

Environmentalists tried to downplay Hulot’s appointment, saying he was soft on nuclear power. But EDF stocks fell 6.5 percent on Hulot being named Environmental and Social Transition Minister.

EDF is the world’s largest nuclear power plant operator. France gets 75 percent of its electricity from EDF, but Macron wants to continue past administration policies of closing down nuclear plants and replacing them with wind and solar energy.

“That is a medium-term target,” Hulot told Le Monde in March when asked if France should abandon nuclear power.

“As renewable energy becomes more and more competitive, the nuclear industry business model belongs to the past,” Hulot said.

Though Hulot said he would not force the closure of the Fessenheim nuclear plant, which the Hollande administration promised to close down.

“We cannot impose a transition by force,” Hulot said. “The transition has to be done in an acceptable manner.”

Macron promised to continue reducing France’s nuclear power output. Under this plan, France would get 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear power by 2025.

Macron has also doubled-down on pledges to increase green energy use and cut carbon dioxide emissions as part of the Paris climate agreement. The president also championed a $110 per metric ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions.

For years, Hulot became a “household name thanks to his hit show Ushuaia, where he grabbed viewer attention with stunts like skydiving over Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls and then showed them the beauty of imperiled nature,” according to a 2015 profile by Politico.

Hulot served as France’s “Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet” for three years under former socialist President François Hollande, and even ran for public office in the Green Party in 2007.

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