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France to fine shopkeepers running heating or air conditioning with doors open

Plans to cut energy use will also bring in fines for businesses that leave illuminated advertisements on at night

Harry Cockburn
Environment Correspondent
Monday 25 July 2022 17:35 BST
French shops running air conditioning in summer or heating in winter must close their doors to improve energy efficiency
French shops running air conditioning in summer or heating in winter must close their doors to improve energy efficiency (Getty)

Shopkeepers in France who use air conditioning with their doors left open or who leave illuminated signs on at night could be fined hundreds of euros under major new plans to slash energy consumption in the country.

Store owners leaving their doors open while running air conditioning is leading to “20 per cent more consumption, and it’s absurd”, France’s minister for ecological transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, told RMC radio.

She said there were also plans to further restrict the use of illuminated signs at night.

“In the coming days, I will issue two decrees: the first will widen the ban on illuminated advertising, whatever the size of the city, between 1am and 6am,” Ms Pannier-Runacher told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Exceptions will be made for airports and train stations, she said.

“The second will ban shops from having their doors open while the air conditioning and heating are working,” the minister added.

Businesses found to be in breach of the new rules on door closures will face a fine of €750 (£637).

Meanwhile, businesses failing to switch off their lights at night will be fined €1,500 (£1,273.)

Summer heatwaves have led to some French cities, including Bourg-en-Bresse, Lyon, Besançon and Paris already facing new rules on door closures since the middle of July, but the government is now rolling the initiative out nationally.

Around 300 towns and cities are already subject to rules banning illuminated advertising between 1am and 6am, but this will also be rolled out more widely.

The changes come as countries aim to end dependence on Russian fossil fuels since the invasion of Ukraine, with major concerns that Moscow could cause winter chaos if Vladimir Putin decides to cut fuel supplies to European countries.

French president Emmanuel Macron has also pledged to reduce France’s energy consumption by 10 per cent by 2024.

Earlier this month, ministers said they were considering energy rationing in the wake Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said European nations should now be prepared for a “total cut-off” of Russian gas, which he said was “the most probable scenario”.

He added that both businesses and households would need to reduce energy consumption to prepare for such a situation this coming winter, while the government was consulting on further priorities for energy saving.

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