France unveils plan for massive energy cuts

It’s become a big joke on national radio, but it might just help France’s energy problem this winter – the government says everyone is wearing turtlenecks to keep warm and reduce energy consumption.

President Macron and his cabinet ministers have now ditched the suits and ties and appear on television and at press conferences in turtlenecks. Of course, it’s just very public marketing for what is a very big plan – it’s called the Winter of Energy Sobriety.

Everyone is being encouraged to save energy as part of the French government’s huge and not inconsiderable plan to reduce France’s energy consumption by 10% in two years and eventually by 40% by 2050.

The government owns almost a third of all buildings in the whole of France (including museums, the central bank, government offices, etc.) and so has turned its attention inward—Stanislas Guerini, minister of transformation and public affairs of operations, said Thursday that these buildings use the same amount of energy as metropolitan Paris. That’s 20 terawatts of power. The state plans to reduce electricity use by 2 terawatts this winter, the equivalent of a small city.

As part of his plan, temperatures are not allowed to exceed 19 degrees in government buildings and hot water will not be available, and civil servants will have to take the train or drive more slowly to save fuel—no more than 110 kilometers per hour (68 mph). ) instead of 130. Civil servants will receive 2.88 euros ($2.86) a day if they work from home, and businesses are encouraged to do the same.

The Eiffel Tower gets dark earlier, as its lights will go out at 10:45 p.m., (instead of 1 a.m.) and most lights in smaller cities will also go out in the early hours of the morning (mayor of Paris, the Anne Hidalgo said she would keep the capital lit all night for safety). Illuminated advertisements will not be allowed at night and businesses will be required to turn off lights. A degree lower will be the water in swimming pools throughout the country.

The hope is to wean the country off gas supplies that have become increasingly uncertain since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. President Emmanuel Macron told business leaders that “if we all mobilize to achieve this goal, we will get through the winter even in the most unfavorable scenarios.”

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