PARIS – France's high-ranking environment minister officially announced his resignation on Tuesday on national radio on Tuesday, complaining that the government has not taken decisive action on environmental policy. This step is a blow to the credibility of President Emmanuel Macron in relation to the environment.
Nicolas Hulot was obviously emotional and said that he had not even told his wife, let alone Macron or the Prime Minister, his decision to quit. The longtime environmental activist lamented France's slow progress on green issues and its own lack of power to force change.
His immediate resignation on France Inter Radio was so unexpected that the first reaction came from an interviewer was: "Are you serious?"
"I do not want to lie anymore," Hulot said. "I do not want to create the illusion that my presence in government means we are standard on these issues, and that's why I choose to leave the government."
The recruitment of Hulot as Minister was a coup for Macron, who tried to position France as a champion in the fight against environmental degradation and as a counterbalance to President Donald Trump's attitude to climate change.
The sudden loss of Hulot will force a ministerial reshuffle and challenge the strength of Macron's commitment to "make our planet big again." Macron's office confirmed that there would be a reshuffle but said it would not happen while the French leader visited Denmark and Finland this week.
In Denmark, Macron defended his government has "done more than anyone else in this topic". He urged patience and said, "It's a fight that will not be won overnight."
Hulot expressed the hope that his resignation would stir up French politicians and the public step into action and call it "a mobilization".
"I do not believe anymore," said Hulot. "The planet becomes an oven, our natural resources are exhausted, biodiversity melts like snow in the sun and is not always treated as a priority issue."
He condemned Macron's government with low praise as he uttered his resignation surprise.
"France does more than many other countries, do not let me say it does enough, it does not do enough, Europe does not do enough, the world does not do enough," he said.
Never a career politician, Hulot accepted a role in the government in the hope that he could make real progress on environmental issues from within his position, which he has long been alarming about. He was one of only two ministers to receive the special title of Minister of State. The other is the Minister of the Interior, who leads the police and France's domestic fight against terrorism.
At France Inter, Hulot said short-term pressure prevails In the French government, the longer-term need to reverse environmental degradation takes precedence. He described himself as "quite alone" and said, "I have some influence, but I have no power and no resources."
"Where are my troops, who do I have behind me?" He asked.
Hulot said he had been thinking about his resignation for several months, but one of the last straws was a Monday meeting with Macron about the hunt. Hulot was dismayed that a chasing lobbyist was allowed to attend, even though he was not invited, and saw this as a symbol of the influence of lobbyists in French power corridors.
Macron's critics seized Hulot's departure to attack the president. whose popularity has dropped in recent months.
The leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted that "the macronism is beginning to decompose."
AP author Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report in 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.