Sometimes I really wonder what goes through the heads of business leaders when they get worked up about issues such as saving energy.
In this latest example of silly outrage, French businesses are furious over government plans to require shops and offices to turn out their lights between 1AM and 7AM. For the business leaders, this is a catastrophic event that they claim will damage their businesses.
As anyone who has ever visited Paris knows, this city shuts down early. It’s not a ’round-the-clock city like New York or Sao Paulo where clubs and restaurants are always open. The Metro closes at 1AM during the week, and 2AM on the weekends. There are a few 24 hour restaurants but very few. The 24×7 shopping culture of the US does not exist in France, with most shops closing at 8PM, perhaps a few grocery stores as late as 10PM and of course, most shops are closed on Sundays.
If nobody is walking the streets at these hours, who cares if the lights are on or off?
Putting this aside, is saving energy that horrible? It’s not clear why this group is so upset about something that will save them money since nobody is around anyway. Maybe these business leaders can find a real issue to get upset about because this is not worth their time or money.
The French minister for energy and environment unveiled last week a proposal for lights in and outside shops, offices, and public buildings — including the flagship Louis Vuitton store and the Lido cabaret house on Paris’s Avenue des Champs Elysees — to be turned off between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. starting in July. The plan, to be applied across French cities, towns and villages, is aimed at saving energy and money and showing “sobriety,” Minister Delphine Batho said.The move has provoked an outcry from merchants, who say the government is being insensitive to France’s image as the world’s No. 1 tourist destination. They say the rule, on top of existing bans on Sunday store openings and night shopping, will hurt business at a time when the French economy has barely grown for a year and unemployment is at a 14-year high.
“Great! Another positive message sent to citizens and to tourists: the city will go dark!” said Sofy Mulle, vice- president of the France’s Commerce Council, which represents all of the country’s 650,000 merchants employing about 3.5 million people. “We are ready to make efforts, but the government is cutting a fine line between sobriety and austerity. Surely, we can work out environmentally friendly solutions that have less impact on our society and our economy.”
Sure thing, whatever guys. Why is it that they always can self-regulate at times like this, but when they’re given the choice, they never do it? Tough luck.