French renewables lobby says Le Pen's energy strategy a step backwards

French far-right presidential candidate Le Pen gives a news conference in Vernon
Marine Le Pen, French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, attends a news conference on democracy and the exercise of power in Vernon, France, April 12, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

April 14 (Reuters) - Marine Le Pen's energy programme would represent a backward step if the far-right candidate wins France's presidential elections, a group representing the renewables industry said.

"It would be a major step backwards for our country and for the climate, by increasing our greenhouse gas emissions and our imports of fossil fuels, at the expense of taxpayers and the most precarious consumers," the French Renewable Energy Trade Association (SER) said in a statement on Thursday.

Le Pen's team did not respond to a request for comment.

SER, whose 450 members include French state power utility EDF (EDF.PA), energy group Engie (ENGIE.PA) and oil major TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), added that Le Pen's policy would lead to job losses and bankruptcies for energy transition firms.

Le Pen, who has put nuclear at the heart of her campaign, has proposed dismantling France's existing wind farms and cutting subsidies to wind and solar power, which would distance the European Union member from the bloc's energy strategy.

On Wednesday, Le Pen said that while the climate crisis would not be a priority in her foreign policy, she would not leave the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to curb CO2 emissions.

President Emmanuel Macron, Le Pen's rival in the April 24 presidential election runoff, has said he would promote renewable energy as an opportunity to create jobs if re-elected.

But many environmentalists and political opponents have also criticised his programme as not being ambitious enough.

SER said that Macron's energy strategy, which also mainly banks on launching new nuclear reactors, was better than Le Pen's "by comparison", although much depended on what measures it will entail.

EU states have been looking to renewables to help wean themselves off Russian gas after the West imposed wide-ranging sanctions after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Sarah Morland; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Alexander Smith

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