Saturday, April 2, 2011

Les Vacances de M. Hulot

This is a perennial: with a presidential election looming, the media are wondering whether Nicolas Hulot will become a candidate. Don't they always? Polls show him to be quite popular, but then, of course, he is a well-known TV personality. He speaks well, is good-looking, and knows the issues--or some of them, at any rate. One doesn't hear him saying much about regulating the financial system or reforming the universities, for example. In the last election, after toying with a run for some time, he settled on urging the other candidates to sign his famous "Ecology Pact." Which they did, on TV of course, with the Pact blown up to a size convenient for reading on le petit écran. After the election, the Hulot effect was evident in the decision to create a Superministry of the Environment, at first intended for Juppé but then given to Borloo, who staged a splashy "Grenelle of the environment" (remember that?), which led to another pact, in which all parties agreed that it would be good to be virtuous. And then there was a carbon tax, which the Conseil Constitutionnel didn't much like. And some fiddling in Cophenhagen while the planet burned. And a sideshow starring Claude Allègre. And there we are, right "back where we once belonged," as the song goes.

What environmental policy needs is a tough bureaucratic infighter, not a TV personality.