Chirac heralds eco-revolution

A call to embrace the "ecological revolution unfolding before us" was one of five key messages French President Jacques Chirac chose to convey to his countrymen as he announced he was stepping down, with six weeks to go until the presidential elections.

Environmental protection and countryside issues figure strongly in the presidential race, as one of the “traditional values” that are frequently evoked by candidates, sometimes in quite poetic terms.

The centrist candidate, Francois Bayrou, for example, has said: “The earth is flesh,” We look at it, we touch it, it gives us life, it is a passion, and yet sometimes, as now, it is a desperate passion.”

Speaking in a televised address to the nation, Mr Chirac said: “If we do not manage to reconcile the needs of humanity’s growth and the suffering of a planet gasping for breath, we are on a course for disaster.”

“The revolution must take place in our minds as much as on a global scale, to create a new kind of relationship with nature and an alternative type of growth.

In a speech that will long be remembered as marking the end of his 12 years as head of state, Mr Chirac talked of France’s strong position in the environmental sector that would enable it to “face up to this major challenge of the 21st century.” More controversially, he quoted France’s good standing in the renewables field and its “advances in nuclear power” as examples.

In the remaining four messages that made up his “last rites” as president, Mr Chirac called on the French to reject extremism and racism, to believe in the “French model,” to embrace European integration and to promote “development for all” across the globe.

Goska Romanowicz

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