President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday that France will invest € 30 billion, or $ 34.6 billion, in nuclear reactors, semiconductor plants and other strategic investments over the next five years to revitalize and decarbonize the nation’s industry in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Citing the need for the country to become an innovation champion, Mr Macron, who faces a tough re-election next year, said spending would be aimed at making France a “world leader” in green hydrogen, which companies and governments are increasingly turning to them as they move away from fossil fuels.
The plan is developed just weeks before the major UN climate conference, COP26, at which countries will push forward their latest commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan places a key role in innovative start-ups that can renew French industry alongside France’s resilient industrial giants. At least € 1 billion will be spent on “disruptive innovation” to develop small nuclear reactors with improved waste management, Mr. Macron said in a speech at the Elysee Palace. France relies on nuclear energy more than many other countries, thus generating about 70 percent of its electricity.
French manufacturers will receive financial support to produce cleaner vehicles with a 2030 target date for low-emission aircraft and two million electric or hybrid vehicles on the road. Six billion euros will be spent on the semiconductor industry and robotics.
Additional funding will fund a revolution in French agriculture and technology in the fields to improve the country’s ability to produce its own food. and reduce the huge carbon footprint of agriculture.
France’s manufacturing base has shrunk over the past four decades as manufacturing moved to less expensive countries in Asia and Eastern Europe, requiring hundreds of thousands of jobs. Mr. Macron talked about bringing products back from some strategic industries from China and is working with Germany to create a new European base for key technologies such as electric batteries.
As French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said in a separate interview, improving economic stability following the pandemic is critical.
“We believe in the need to increase the competitiveness of our companies, invest in innovations and new technologies. We strongly believe in the need to take additional risks in order to succeed. We believe in the need to combat climate change, ”he said. “So let’s put all of these proposals together.”