IF France is going through an ecological awakening, its spiritual center may be here in Langouet, a quiet village in Brittany, where the environmentalists mayor has become a folk hero to fellow small -town officials all over the country.

Dozens of mayors are following the example of Langouet's leader, Daniel Cueff, even though the French state has rapped him on the knuckles, dragged him into court and told him that he, the shepherd over a mere 600 souls, had no right to to ban pesticides by ordinance from his village.

The other French mayors, from the Alps to the Atlantic, don't seem to care and have passed their own restrictions in as many as small 40 towns.

Back in Langouet, the citizens have plastered public spaces on the village's empty main-street with signs addressed to the national government's regional representatives :

''Madame Prefect, let our mayor protect us!'' A hand scrawled sign where fields end and the village begins makes the same point.

When Mr. Cueff was hauled before the tribunal in the regional capital, Rennes, this summer, 1,000 people were on hand to applaud him.

Mr. Cueff, a steely eyed 64-year old veteran of the environmental wars who earned his chops four decades ago in fighting a nuclear war, is used to being considered an outlier. Not this time.

''Isn't the mayor of a village called on fill for the state's deficiencies?'' he asked in an interview in his wood-paneled office - powered by solar energy, like the other municipal buildings.   

''France voted for the European directive to protect the population from pesticides. It's not doing it,'' he said. ''I don't want to be accused of nonassistance to people in danger.'' His desk was piled up with letters of support from across France.

After a scorching summer in which the French were frightened by successive record heat waves, brutally underscoring the reality of climate change, there is a premium to on politicians who are seen to act.

The Greens made a strong showing in last spring's European Parliament Elections, environmentalists are on the rise and establishment politicians are genuflecting.

The lesson has not been lost on President Emmanuel Macron, who recently declared, ''I've changed,'' in matters ecological.

The honor and serving of the latest global thinking on climate change, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Adam Nossiter.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!