“If they continue to have a policy that does not make you want to come to Lyon, environmentalists are taking risks”
This article is from Capital magazine
Did you share the concerns after the election of environmentalists for mayor and Metropolis of Lyon (or Greater Lyon)?
François Turcas: Yes like everybody. Business leaders are in favor of the ecological transition but they want it to be smooth… They do not want to relive the trauma of the 35 hours inflicted overnight by Martine Aubry!
Have any of the measures taken confirmed your fears?
Stopping the development of the Part-Dieu business district is a bad signal for Lyon’s attractiveness. In three terms of Gérard Collomb, we have succeeded in having Lyon recognized as a dynamic metropolis throughout the world. Aderly, the economic development agency of Greater Lyon, has enabled the installation of 80 new company headquarters with thousands of jobs to be found. Environmentalists must not destroy this image. If they continue to have a policy that does not make companies want to come and settle in Lyon, they are taking risks.
But isn’t the gigantism of the towers out of fashion?
Is building small buildings really more ecological? This multiplies the sites, cranes, transport … To hear the ecologists from Lyon, nothing was done before they came to power. However, developers and architects from Lyon had already built examples of buildings in terms of sustainable development.
Do you also jump into rent control?
This is bullshit! We won’t even talk about it. It didn’t work in Paris, it won’t work in Lyon. On the other hand, we are witnessing many of their policies in favor of the renovation of buildings but also in terms of catching up for public facilities with, for example, the construction of five new colleges.
Today, what worries Lyon business leaders the most?
The ZFE (ex-ZCR, restricted traffic zone in the city center, Editor’s note). Bruno Bernard, the environmental president of the Metropolis, announced that diesel will be banned from the heart of this low-emission zone from 2026. This is an acceleration compared to the requirements of the State, which has set a course of action but left room for maneuver to local communities. If this decision is maintained, companies can no longer circulate in certain sectors of the Metropolis to ensure their activity.
What arrangements do you have in this integrated ZFE?
An exemption could be obtained for the latest generation diesel cars as long as the utility manufacturers do not market models that allow criteria 0 or 1 (Crit’Air stickers) to be met with sufficient autonomy. It is proposed to create an intermediate sticker 1.5 for these diesels. Traders, craftsmen and SMEs who have recently renewed their car fleets will not have the means to reinvest as quickly. Why not imagine a subsidized fleet with vehicles that could be rented at affordable prices? There is also a review sector by sector of activity. Case by case.
Do you also criticize the development of cycle paths, which are accused of causing new traffic jams?
It is following the policy of Anne Hidalgo in Paris and Eric Piolle in Grenoble. Moreover, Lyon environmentalists often remind us that this policy is working well since these two mayors were re-elected. But in Lyon, it’s too much and too fast, especially in the 6th arrondissement. Sometimes, environmentalists experiment with cycling arrangements that they put in place for a while before dismantling them. They are groping. But we admit it, because we cannot fight on all fronts.
Do other measures make you react?
Environmentalists want to eliminate all electrical decoration from shops. I am not talking only of the signs on the public highway, but of the windows themselves which remain private property! When we worry about the future of the companies that install them and the impact on employment, we are told that their employees only have to go and work in other sectors of activity. How can we afford to say that? It is inadmissible. It is pure and simple dogmatism! We won’t let it go!
Do you approve of the “Manifesto for an industry that is transforming and is committed to the environment” that the Metropolis has just launched?
I would be more comfortable to answer you if we had invited around a table to bring together business leaders in this process. To my knowledge, neither the CPME, nor the Medef, nor other professional organizations have been consulted. It is a shame, because we could have shown many examples of interesting initiatives. The majority of business leaders are already investing to pollute less, but they are gradually renewing their equipment and methods. And depending on the market!
Are relations between elected environmentalists and business leaders continuing to deteriorate?
No, it took more than eighteen months, but I must admit that we are seeing an inflection. Bruno Bernard, the president of the Metropolis, understood that there was a need for a bridge between business leaders and his most dogmatic vice-presidents. It is a proof of intelligence. He put us as interlocutor Delphine Prady, his deputy chief of staff, who worked at the IMF. She is able to understand our expectations and transform them into “green language”.
So the dialogue has settled down?
Yes. Proposals that do not receive ears are now listened to. In addition, environmentalists have reactivated a forum for dialogue with players in the economic world: Grand Lyon, l’Esprit d’Entreprise. I am not here to denigrate a policy as a whole but to discuss and find solutions. 45 of the 59 mayors of the agglomeration have already published an open letter to express their indignation at the lack of consultation. The environmentalists must not go too far and they know it.
Are you one of those people who just want to hold out until the election, which may wait for another political trend to return?
No, I am far from saying that environmentalists only provide an interim! They may be there for ten years. This is why dialogue is essential.
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