French Voters Align Themselves with Climate Positions Of European Political Parties

Number of MEPs from France elected to the European Parliament in 2019 by European political party grouping Source:

While the next presidential election in France will not be until 2027, the next elections will be the European Parliament elections of French representatives that will take place on June 9, 2024. These elections take place every five years, and last took place in May 2019. In European elections, citizens of European Union countries elect their representatives as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The Parliament has 705 seats, with each country allocated a certain number of seats based on its population. 79 MEPs currently represent France. The European Parliament is the world’s only directly elected transnational assembly. The Members of the European Parliament represent the interests of EU citizens at the European level. Together with representatives of the governments of EU countries, MEPs shape and decide on new laws that influence all aspects of life across the European Union, including Climate Change.

National political parties contest European elections, but once MEPs are elected, most opt to become part of transnational political groups. Most national parties are affiliated with a European-wide political party, and MEPs sit in political groups based on shared ideals. Each group has a minimum of 23 MEPs from at least a quarter of EU countries. There are currently seven groups in the current Parliament. In 2019, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe published a report, “Defenders, Delayers, Dinosaurs: Ranking of EU political groups and national parties on climate change,” assessing the voting behavior of current MEPs about climate and energy issues. It found that centrist and conservative parties of the current European Parliament have failed to treat climate change with the urgency it demands.

Specifically, five out of eight EU political groups score poorly or very badly in the report as ‘Dinosaurs’ who prevent constructive action on climate change. The Europe of Nations and Freedom – ENF (15.2%), the European People’s Party – EPP (14.3%), and the European Conservatives and Reformists – ECR (10.0%) come at the bottom of the ranking with a meager score of less than 25%.

Then there are the ‘Delayers’ who support climate action in theory but do not act with urgency, including The Europe for Freedom and Direct Democracy – EFDD (40.9%) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE (38.1%) who score less than 50%.

Only three groups score well in this ranking as ‘Defenders’ acting upon the climate crisis with urgency, including the Greens/European Free Alliance -EFA (84.9%), the European United Left/Nordic Green Left – GUE/NGL (66.5%), and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats – S&D (61.3%),  who score ‘good’ or ‘very good.’

According to this analysis, among the 74 MEPs from France affiliated with European party groupings elected in 2019, 30 would be considered ‘Dinosaurs’ from ENF and EPP, 21 as ‘Delayers’ with ALDE, and 23 as ‘Defenders’ from EFA, GUE/NGL, and S&D.

This year’s European election is expected to be one of the more contentious elections in the history of the European Parliament, given the rise of far-right parties in polling. The French far-right also hopes to ride a ‘populist wave’ in the 2024 European elections, including the Rassemblement National, seen as a favorite in France for the 2024 European elections under the leadership of its president, Jordan Bardella. It is cultivating its ties with other European far-right parties in hopes of making alliances in the next Parliament. The Rassemblement National (RN) was founded in 1972 as the Front National by Jean Marie Le Pen and subsequently led by his daughter, Marine Le Pen. The RN opposes all restrictive measures tackling climate change and has voiced its intention to oppose anything threatening to disrupt the lifestyles and consumption patterns of French people. That is decided – be it in Paris or Brussels – in the name of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

The RN’s position on the environment evokes a ‘common sense ecology’ in opposition to a ‘punitive ecology,’ which says it antagonizes people and economic activity. In doing so, the RN seeks to deepen and exploit environmentalism as a divisive national theme in France, as it had previously done with immigration. Environmentalism, in particular, divides urban, rural, and semi-urban voters who comprise the RN voter base. While the party no longer denies the reality of climate change, their environmental policy centers on ‘localism’ and the absence of constraints or the implementation of flexible local environmental policies agreed to by referendum and free from the dictates of international agreements such as the Paris Agreement or those emerging from COP 28. While the RN opposes renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, it strongly supports nuclear power.

Political fundraising is not a French tradition, and the RN has historically struggled financially as a party despite its growing popularity amongst working-class, rural, and young voters. The RN draws its support from modest working-class households by speaking to unemployment, job insecurity, purchasing power, and reduced social mobility. Most recently, France and other European countries have been experiencing large-scale protests among farmers protesting inflation, low wages, and excessive regulation on environmental protection. The discontent of European farmers mounts a forceful rejection of national and transnational environmental policies like the European Green Deal, and the RN, among other right-wing political groups, is eagerly responding to this anger to shore up its rural support in the months leading up to the European elections in June.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Liana Mehring.

Learn More

Mackenzie, Lucia, and Giovanna Coi. “Your Guide to the 2024 European Election in 9 Charts.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 29 Jan. 2024,

“What Are European Elections and How Do They Work?” European Elections 2024: All You Need to Know, Accessed 7 Feb. 2024.

C.dascalu. “Defenders, Delayers or Dinosaurs: Where Do EU Political Groups Stand on Climate Change?” CAN Europe, 24 Jan. 2023,

McEvoy, Olan. “France: European Election Results 2019.” Statista, 28 Feb. 2023,

Guillou, Clément. “French Far Right Hopes to ‘ride Populist Wave’ in 2024 European Elections.” Le Monde.Fr, Le Monde, 25 Nov. 2023,

Guillou, Clément. “The New Political Divide France’s Far Right Wants to Exploit: Environmentalism.” Le Monde.Fr, Le Monde, 24 Aug. 2023,


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