France to order air-conditioned shops to keep doors closed or pay fine

France to order air-conditioned shops to keep doors closed or pay fine
Plans to cut energy use will also bring in fines for businesses which leave illuminated advertisements on at night

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, Agnes 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 1 am and 6 am”, Ms Pannier-Runacher told the 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 out the initiative 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 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 will 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.