Nicolas Hulot resigned this morning. The announcement came suddenly, without warning to either the prime minister or the president. “I don’t want to go on lying to myself,” the former minister of the environment announced during a radio interview. This marked the end of a very unhappy tenure for Hulot, during which he could claim only one victory, the end of the plan to build an airport at Notre-Dame des Landes. On other major issues–such as the continuation of authorization to use glyphosate for another five years–he was compelled to accede to the wishes of the government, the EU, various lobbies, etc.
Hulot had been the most popular minister in Edouard Philippe’s increasingly unpopular government. He owed that popularity to his reputation for integrity, which was steadily being eroded by his acquiescence in so many decisions in which he was on the losing side. He finally had enough. The manner of his leaving–unpolitic in the extreme–bolstered his image as a non-politician.
One final irony: the decision came just after the Macron administration granted the hunters’ lobby–no friends of Hulot’s–everything it had asked for. “This [i.e., Hulot’s resignation] is frankly not the worst news of the week,” an official of a hunting organization declared. “He was no friend of hunters or of le monde rural,” he added. How curious, that the man reputed to be the foremost champion of the environment in France, could be denounced on his way out the door as an enemy of outdoorsmen and farmers. But such are the contradictions of France today.