“It is becoming difficult not to laugh at the mountain of subterfuge by the French government”

In his manifesto for a free press, which was to be published in The Republican Evening on November 25, 1939, before his censorship, Albert Camus declared that irony (along with lucidity, refusal and obstinacy) must be one of the instruments of journalism against authority. In recent weeks, the government’s action on health and environmental issues encourages us to heed this advice, because it is becoming increasingly difficult not to laugh at the mountain of subterfuge, contradictions and tricks of the French government, invariably intended to favor short-term economic performance and to exclude all other considerations.

The list can never be exhaustive, but it could begin with the signing on March 27 of the “commitment charter for managers of stations, metros and airports (…) in terms of energy savings” , which aims to “better regulate the advertising signs.” Remember, this winter, when the energy shortage was looming, it was very difficult to justify such waste when households were encouraged to lower the temperature of their homes. It required action. Signed with great fanfare under the enthusiastic patronage of two ministers – Energy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher and Transport Minister Clément Beaune – the charter relies only on the goodwill of the companies that sign it.

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What luck. Because the commitments made are so important that they seem difficult to maintain. There are three. The first is “to gradually equip (…) the devices used for illuminated advertising signs (…) so that they can be turned off or at least put on standby”. A strong promise: install switches. The charter states that this will be done “gradually”, so that no one feels rushed. The second commitment is “that when stations, metro stations or airports close (…), illuminated advertising signs are turned off or put on standby when the device allows it”. In other words, turn off the light when you leave the room – but only if there’s a switch.

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The third point is truly admirable. According to the charter, it is a question of “establishing a ‘sobriety’ strategy based on trajectories for reducing the electricity consumption and carbon emissions of all illuminated advertising signs, taking into account the characteristics, uses and the needs of the world of transport according to their perimeters on the date of signature of this charter.” This sentence must be read and re-read, and the author must be congratulated: To offer such a staggering void at the end of so many words literary virtuosity.As for these “trajectories”, they would be inscribed in the law if they were serious.

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