Elite University Students are demanding climate change curriculum. The criticism may be having an impact. In the legislation passed by the National Assembly, ''ecocide'' was changed from being labeled a crime, as proposed by the citizens panel, to a civil offense. It could still result in jail time.

Mr. Macron last fall sought to make the transition to a greener economy a cornerstone of a 100 billion euro, or $122 billion, ''Relaunch France'' stimulus package to reverse the pandemic-induced recession.

PARIS : Less meat in French cafeterias. Bans on short-distance flights. Gas heaters on cafe terraces would be outlawed.

As President Emmanuel Macron moves to make France a global champion in the fight against climate change, a wide-ranging environmental bill passed by the French National Assembly last month promises to change the way the French live, work and consume.

It would require more vegetarian meals at state-funded canteens, block expansion of France's airports and curb wasteful plastic packaging. Polluters could be found guilty of ''ecocide,'' a new offense carrying jail terms of up to 10 years for destroying the environment.

If Mr. Macron gets his way, the fight against climate-change would even be enshrined in the French constitution through a referendum.

But those lofty ambitions are running into a barrage of resistance.

One recent Sunday in cities throughout France, tens of thousands of climate activists took to the streets to denounce the legislation.

They issued a warning that was also an insult. The bill had been so diluted that France would be unable to meet its commitments to the Climate Paris Agreement, the 2015 international accord signed in its own capital to avert a climate catastrophe.

Environmentalists and politicians from France's Green party, rather than backing the legislation, have accused Mr. Macron's government of watering down ambitious measures and putting the corporate interests above tough proposals by a 150-person ''citizens climate panel,'' which Mr. Macron himself convened last year to address climate concerns.

France's influential business federation have joined forces to push back against what they view as over regulation and job-killing populism that could threaten their ability to recover from the economic blow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Daniel Boy, a political scientist at Sciences Po university in Paris, said that environmentalism ''was not really part of Macron's DNA.''

But he added that Mr. Macron had favored a ''pragmatic ecology'' made of small steps and concrete measures, reflecting a liberal electorate sensitive to economic interests and had opposed ''a more radical ecology'' with wide-ranging changes.

That cautious approach is what has drawn the ire of many climate activists - and pulled protesters back into the streets.

Ms. Etinne, the activist, said the climate bill in its current form amounted to a ''betrayal'' of the citizens convention's proposals and a wasted opportunity for Mr. Macron.

''They had the science, the people, the political moment,'' she said. ''To deliberately lack the will and fall for industry lobbies now - I can't think of any other word than betrayal.

The World Students Society thanks authors Liz Alderman and Constant Meheut.


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