President Emmanuel Macron’s promise to enshrine the fight against climate change in the French constitution via a referendum appeared moribund on Tuesday after the upper house watered down the ambitious wording of a government-sponsored bill.
The initiative to state in the constitution that France “guarantees environmental protection and biological diversity, and combats climate change” originated in a citizen’s body set up by Macron last year.
Seeking the upper hand in what could be a key issue in next year’s presidential election, the French leader promised a referendum on the bill if it gained approval in both houses of parliament.
The National Assembly, where Macron has a majority, overwhelmingly voted in favour of the revision in March.
But when the bill then went to the Senate, the body — majority-ruled by the right-wing Republicans — removed a key provision from the draft law before backing a new version in a vote late Monday.
Under French law a referendum can go ahead only if it is approved in identical wording by both houses of parliament.