French environment minister quits live on national radio

Paris: France’s high-profile environment minister unexpectedly announced his resignation live on national radio on Tuesday, lamenting the government’s lack of decisive action on green issues. The move deals a stinging blow to the environmental credibility of President Emmanuel Macron.

Clearly emotional, Nicolas Hulot said he had not even told his wife, let alone Macron or his Prime Minister, of his decision to stand down. The long-time environmental advocate lamented France’s slow pace of progress on green issues and his own lack of power to force change.

His on-air resignation on France Inter radio was so out of the blue that the first reaction from an interviewer was, “Are you serious?” “I no longer want to lie to myself. I don’t want to create the illusion that my presence in government means that we’re up to standard on these issues, and so I am deciding to quit the government,” Hulot said.

Recruiting Hulot as a minister had been a coup for Macron, who has sought to position France as a champion in the fight against environmental degradation and as a counterweight to the climate change attitudes of US President Donald Trump.

Losing Hulot so suddenly will force a ministerial reshuffle and casts doubt on the strength of Macron’s commitment to “make our planet great again”. Macron’s office confirmed there will be a reshuffle but said it won’t happen while the French leader is visiting Denmark and Finland this week.

He damned Macron’s government with faint praise as he sprang his resignation surprise, and said, “France is doing more than a lot of other countries. Do not make me say that it is doing enough. It is not doing enough. Europe is not doing enough. The world is not doing enough.”