A majority of French people think that the government isn’t doing enough to protect the environment and address green issues, a poll published this week showed.
“His decision must serve as an electroshock, and stop France from losing its reputation as a global green leader. It would be very dangerous to let that happen, especially now that [rival superpower] China is investing heavily in green energy,” Mrs Royal told the French daily Le Figaro.
“We still have a very important role to play [in the fight against climate change],” she added.
Asked whether France had forever lost its climate leadership role, she said: “That is what Nicolas Hulot pointed out. However, this situation is not irreversible. But in the future our environmental policies must be guided by the principle of non-retrogression”.
On Tuesday, the 40-year-old centrist suffered an embarrassing blow to his green credentials when Mr Hulot resigned live on radio, saying the Macron administration was doing too little to tackle climate change and was influenced by lobbyists.
The announcement was an unwelcome addition to a long list of political woes for Mr Macron, who is still recovering from a scandal surrounding his former bodyguard that sent his popularity ratings into freefall last month.
Mr Macron once pledged to “make our planet great again,” but critics say Mr Hulot’s shock resignation has shone a harsh spotlight on his mixed-bag green record.
Mr Hulot, a well-known green activist, had rejected job offers from three of Mr Macron’s predecessors but decided to give the ambitious leader a chance, even though he had voted for a socialist candidate.
“We’ll have to see if his conversion [to the environmental cause] is coherent, honest and credible or not,” he said at the time.
However Mr Hulot said he had grown frustrated with the irreconcilable differences between his green vision and that of the government.
“We don’t see things through the same lens… They don’t understand that the dominant model is to blame,” he said of Mr Macron and his conservative Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.
A poll published on Wednesday showed that a crushing majority of French people disapprove of Mr Macron’s environmental policies.
Conducted by Elabe for the news channel BFM TV, the poll showed that 85 per cent of French people think the government “isn’t doing enough to protect the environment” and combat climate change.
The survey also confirmed Mr Macron’s deepening unpopularity among the French, with 35 per cent of respondents saying he will “fail to reform France”.
Only 15 per cent of those polled said France would be “deeply transformed” by the end of his five-year term.
The Elabe poll of 1,011 people was carried out online between August 28 and August 29.