A French Minister Quit While On Air In Dramatic Call For Faster Environmental Change

"Are little steps enough?... the answer is no.”

A French Minister Quit While On Air In Dramatic Call For Faster Environmental Change

French President Emmanuel Macron's administration took a major blow this week when high-profile environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, resigned from government during a live radio interview on Tuesday. 

Hulot made his surprise announcement on France Inter radio station, surprising listeners and even throwing his interviewers off-guard. "I no longer want to lie to myself," the now ex-cabinet member said, per The Washington Post. "I don't want to give the illusion that my presence in the government signifies that we are answering these problems properly. So I have made the decision to leave the government."

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Macron recruited Hulot into his administration in May 2017, and the outspoken environmental activist has since become one of the most popular and widely respected governmental figures among the French public. Despite that, he continuously battled his colleagues over what he perceived as their lack of urgency in supporting and prioritize environmental policy in the country. 

Hulot cited this frustration with the bureaucratic system as his reason for resigning, stating, "We're taking little steps, and France is doing a lot more than other countries, but are little steps enough?... the answer is no."

He also went on to describe his time in office as "an accumulation of disappointments," during which he was unable to move forward with the type of policy changes he sought to make. "It's a decision of honesty and responsibility," he said of his choice to leave government. 

The abrupt resignation came as a shock to Macron and his administration, who reportedly had not been informed of the decision prior to Hulot's announcement on the radio. According to The Washington Post, several other government officials who were also making radio stops on Monday morning looked stunned by the news, but some hit back against Hulot's critiques

"I hear his disappointment, but we must give him and the government credit for what has been done over the course of a year," French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, who was making an appearance on BFM TV at the time, said. "We can't have results in just one year, and Nicolas Hulot knows that."  

Hulot's departure stands in contrast with the president's recent efforts to make France an international environmental leader. Last June, Macron made headlines when he spoke out against Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.  "Make out planet great again," he said at the time, urging climate scientists, engineers, and researchers to find a "second homeland" in France. 

As Hulot's resignation feeds questions over France's commitment to environmental policy change, Macron himself refuses to give any air to his ex-minister's critiques. "This is a fight that does not happen overnight," he said in response to Hulot's claims, per The Washington Post.

Cover image via Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

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