The Grenelle Environment Roundtable (“Le Grenelle de
A bit of
In Autumn 2007, the
“Grenelle Environment Forum” conference was held in Paris,
which was important for many reasons including its duration,
content, the number of participants and their representativeness.
The different working
groups of the conference produced an extensive legislative work,
including the first “Grenelle I” Act that was voted for on
3 August 2009, which laid down the basic principles, and was then
followed by the Grenelle II Act, adopted by parliament on 12 July
2010, which translated the objectives into a number of rules and
constraints of different types.
This has been a
gradual process, which is not unreasonable given the issues, but
difficulties have occurred in terms of practical application,
particularly in the face of strong opposition from major lobbies
that have watered (and still are watering) down the original text
to a considerable extent (Lefèvre, 2011).
The goal of these laws
is the search for a different mode of growth. To this end, the 257
articles of the “Law of national commitment to the environment”
changed 19 legislative codes, including many chapters of the
Environment Code, the first part of the Town Planning Code, and
around twenty non-codified texts (Jegouzo, 2010).
In terms of urbanism,
the Grenelle I and II Acts have started a profound transformation
of planning law, allowing it to evolve from a limited law for
spatial organisation, towards a law that serves major societal
goals. This trend had already started with the French SRU, where
for the first time the term “sustainable development”
emerged, alongside the idea of an urban project supported by a
The Process and achievements
The entire process lasted three years, from 2007 to 2010 and was
carried out over several phases:
• Dialogue and
preparation of action plans on several themes involving five
bodies (Central government, local communities, NGO’s, businesses
and trade unions).
• Consultation with
the general public (two months of national consultation throughout
France and on the Internet).
• Negotiations and
decisions on the 268 commitments made by the Government.
• Implementation (34
Operational Committees were created to propose tangible actions
for implementing commitments).
• Enacting legislation
with the final adoption of the necessary laws (Grenelle 1 in 2009
and Grenelle 2 in 2010).
The key focus of these
laws remains the reduction of overall emissions of greenhouse
gases by 75 per cent, by the year 2050. The sectors most affected
by this challenge are the construction and transportation
industries which currently represent 40 per cent of the total
greenhouse emissions. The Grenelle process highlighted 13 main
areas of action, five of which, outlined below, are critical.
Buildings: A series of measures will be taken to encourage
“ecological urban planning” which does not require excessive
land and energy resources, using new technologies in new buildings
and more efficient heating systems in older buildings.
This would entail the
comprehensive application of low energy-consumption building
standards by 2012 and the construction of energy-positive
buildings, generating more energy than they consume.
Transportation: For major changes to occur, infrastructure as well
as habits and attitudes must evolve (alternative infrastructure to
roadways must be developed through the creation of new railways
and waterways, etc.
A “green-bonus &
green-tax” system was also implemented in January 2008, to
encourage the purchase of environmentally-friendly vehicles while
vehicles with greater CO2 emissions (>250 gr/km) are now subject
to a “green-tax”). Energy consumption: To sharply reduce the
emission of greenhouse gases, by encouraging the development of
renewable energies (onshore and offshore wind energy, solar
energy, sustainable hydroelectricity) and by limiting energy
consumption. Preservation of biodiversity: Several measures to be
put in place to allow the optimal functioning of ecosystems and to
re-establish sound ecological water quality.
The main measures
concern protection of animal species and their habitat,
conservation of water resources and sustainable agriculture. Risk
control, waste treatment and health protection: To combat
pollution at all levels (air pollution, light pollution, etc.) in
order to incorporate environmental policy into public health. From
its inception, the Grenelle has had a monitoring committee, the
National Committee for Sustainable Development and for the
Environmental Round Table (CNDDGE) placed under the authority of
the Minister of State for Sustainable Development. This
organisation with 41 members monitors the implementation of the
Grenelle commitments and supports the Government’s policy of
sustainable development. As of November 2010, 18 per cent of the
268 commitments were respected and 60 per cent are currently in
* Benoit Lefèvre,
Vincent Renard (IDDRI) – Working Paper 08/11 – December 2011