Last Updated on September 8, 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron is urging citizens to reduce energy usage in the coming weeks and months. All told, Macron is calling for a 10% reduction in fuel consumption in order to avoid rationing this upcoming winter. Europe has been gripped by a continent-wide energy crisis as sanctions on Russian energy have led to shortages and skyrocketing prices.
Macron warned Monday that forced energy savings might have to be considered in coming months if voluntary efforts aren’t sufficient, according to a report from the Associated Press. The French president revealed that rationing plans are already being developed “in case,” they’re needed, and that “cuts will happen as a last resort.”
“The best energy is that which we don’t consume,” Macron said at a press conference Monday. He urged French businesses and households to save energy by turning down heating and air conditioning, among other things.
France is one of many European nations looking to cut back on energy consumption as the war in Ukraine drags on. Russia’s main main pipeline carrying natural gas to Germany remains shut down, and the European Commission president says the EU’s electricity market “is no longer operating” as the sanctions remain in place.
Macron did not elaborate on how the 10% reduction goal would be reached. Many French citizens have already scaled back on electricity and gas consumption amid rising prices, though the government remains concerned.
Last week, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne warned that a worst-case scenario this winter could lead to rolling two-hour power blackouts in French homes.
Borne told TMC that the situation is partly due to the consequences of the war in Ukraine, as well as the planned shutdown of about half of France’s 56 nuclear reactors for maintenance. France relies on nuclear energy for about 67% of its electricity — more than any other country — and on gas for about 7%, the AP reported.
“It means that we’re producing less electricity, and there may be moments, if it’s very cold, where we can have a problem to supply electricity,” Borne said. “In such case … we’d cut off, via rotations, neighborhood by neighborhood, for no more than two hours,” she added.
In an effort to combat the growing crisis, Macron announced a mutual agreement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. France will supply Germany with gas in order to make up for a drop in Russian gas supplies from the east. In exchange, Germany will provide France with additional electricity in order to make up for lost output from the downed nuclear reactors.
Macron said France and Germany support the idea of requiring energy companies that are making big profits on recent spikes in gas and oil prices to make a “contribution” to the public. The French leader avoided using the word tax, instead saying he and Scholz support “a mechanism of European contribution sought from energy companies whose production costs are much lower than the market sale price,” the AP reported.