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3 Apr, 2019 08:23

Locals slam Macron for empty promises on environment as RT visits French city plagued by pollution

Locals slam Macron for empty promises on environment as RT visits French city plagued by pollution

Emmanuel Macron is known as an advocate of combating pollution globally, but did he succeed in doing so in France? RT visited one of Europe’s largest industrial zones, where noxious fumes are putting people’s lives at risk.

Fos-sur-Mer looks like an idyllic seaside city in southern France, but it accommodates a sizeable port and industrial facilities, including oil refineries, chemical factories and steel plants. Day and night, all of these are releasing toxic fumes into the air, RT’s Charlotte Dubenskij reported.

Residents claim that these compounds are having a devastating effect on their health, with the number of cancer, diabetes and asthma patients higher than the national average. “The main problem comes from the industrial port area which emits ultrafine particles that get into our lungs and blood streams,” said Daniel Moutet, president of a local environmental group.

READ MORE: ‘Hypocrite’: Macron takes heat over Twitter post on ‘pollution deaths’ in France

Moutet, who has diabetes, explained that the high rate of diseases could have been lower if noxious waste was disposed of properly by Fos-sur-Mer factories. “Just 50km from here, none of this is happening, so this is a local problem,” he added.

Local industries maintain that they meet the highest environmental standards possible. The Esso refinery, for instance, which produces seven million tons of petroleum products a year, said it halved its sulfur emissions over the past 10 years while reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by two-thirds, according to AFP.

President Emmanuel Macron has consistently urged world leaders to take a stand against pollution and climate change. “We are killing our planet. Let us face it: we have no planet B,” he famously said last year. And a year earlier, he derided Donald Trump’s decision to walk out from the Paris Climate Accord, saying: “We all share the same responsibility – make our planet great again.”

These statements don’t seem to play well with people in Fos-sur-Mer, however. “It’s only promises, he hasn’t done anything yet,” a local man told RT. “There’s plenty of work to be done,” another said. “You know about the ‘Yellow Vest’ movement, and one of their [demands] is to improve the environment.”

Environmental concerns are likely to become a major issue in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May. Many green parties have joined the race in the hope of performing better than they did in national elections.

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