French Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot resigned on 28 August. How will this affect the future of France’s proposed HFC tax?
The entrance to the French Parliament in Paris.
Nicolas Hulot resigned from his position as France’s minister for the ecological and inclusive transition on live radio on 28 August 2018. What impact will this have on France’s proposed HFC tax?
Hulot, a former TV presenter and green activist, said he had resigned because he felt "on his own" in the government, and expressed his frustration with industrial lobbies.
In July 2017, Nicolas Hulot announced government plans to introduce a tax on HFCs. To come into effect according to schedule in January 2019, the tax must be approved by the National Assembly as part of the adoption of the 2019 Finance Bill.
Does Hulot’s resignation compromise the future of the tax and its mechanism for supporting alternative technologies?
"The HFC tax project was an initiative carried personally by Mr. Nicolas Hulot. Following his resignation, the context is indeed likely to change," said a source at the Ministry of the Ecological Transition and Solidarity.
In an interview with French radio station Europe 1 on 28 August 2018, Matthieu Orphelin, a member of parliament (MP) from the ruling LRM party who had declared himself confident the HFC tax would be adopted during July’s ATMOsphere France 2018 conference, said it was imperative “for everyone to get back together".
Orphelin expressed hope that Hulot’s resignation would be an “electric shock” encouraging the parliamentary majority and all stakeholders, "to live up to what’s at stake". Regarding the government's record, Orphelin is more nuanced than his former minister: "There are a lot of subjects where things have progressed," said the MP, citing in particular the carbon tax of which the HFC tax would be part.
Beyond the tax, it is important for the natural refrigerant industry to continue to support the implementation of the mechanism to support alternative technologies.
"This year, the F-Gas Regulation requires a very significant reduction [in the use of HFCs], and [HFC] prices have already grown up to tenfold in just one year. The price signal is therefore already much stronger than the amount of the proposed tax. European countries that had put in place an HFC tax before the entry into force of the EU F-Gas Regulation, however, did see a positive impact," Didier Coulomb, director-general of the International Institute of Refrigeration, told this website.
The adoption of this financial mechanism is therefore crucial to accelerating the market for natural refrigerants in France.
It remains to be seen whether France’s new minister of the ecological and inclusive transition, François de Rugy, will ‘live up to what’s at stake".