It’s Friday, December 18, and French President Emmanuel Macron wants to put climate in his country’s constitution.

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Emmanuel Macron, the centrist president of France, has promised to hold a referendum on incorporating climate change into the country’s constitution.

The announcement came earlier this week when Macron, who has come under fire from environmentalists in recent years, was speaking to the country’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate, a group of 150 randomly selected members of the public tasked with proposing ways to cut carbon emissions. The group had suggested adding a clause to the beginning of the constitution to incorporate commitments to protect the environment and fight climate change.

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France ranks 19th in the world in terms of total annual carbon emissions and has struggled to make sustained reductions. In 2018 and 2019, the government faced significant backlash over a fuel tax increase intended to fund the fight against climate change. And earlier this year, Macron deferred his government’s emissions reduction efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that earned him a rebuke from France’s top administrative court.

“Should we do more? Yes,” Macron admitted in conversation with the citizens’ group this week.

The referendum proposal would have to go first to the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, and then to the country’s senate before reaching the public. The last referendum in France failed in 2005, when voters rejected a proposal to create a European constitution.

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Emily Pontecorvo