All five leading candidates in France’s presidential election have made prominent energy efficiency pledges, now UK Labour have followed suit

Marine Le Pen, like all major candidates for this weekend’s first round presidential run off, has pitched warmer homes to poor voters. (Source: Rémi Noyon)

Energy efficiency has made a surprise breakthrough in the French presidential race, with all four leading candidates setting out ambitious renovation programmes to cut emissions and energy poverty.

Meanwhile, in Britain’s nascent election campaign, Climate Home has learned Labour plans to unveil new rules for landlords to renovate properties to higher efficiency grades, before they can be rented out.

Rarely considered political catnip, energy efficiency was argued over by French candidates’ during TV debates.

As the tightly-fought four-way race heads towards a first round vote this weekend, building renovations have made climate policy relevant to alienated working class voters in France.

One in three French households are energy poor and, with buildings continuing to account for more than 40% of carbon emissions, renovations have stealthily climbed the political agenda. An existing law that obliges renovations of all buildings in the ‘F’ and ‘G’ energy classes by 2025 has popularised such programmes.

Left-wing firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon has promised 700,000 building renovations a year for the poorest householders, while his socialist opponent Benoit Hamon has flagged a stunning €100bn renovation plan.

Less striking but better-costed is a €4bn a year renovations programme proposed by the front-runner in opinion polls, Emmanuel Macron, who would also scrap a one-year stay on energy transition tax credits and introduce free efficiency audits.

Even the neo-fascist Marine Le Pen has a manifesto pledge (number 132) to make insulation a “budgetary priority” in public procurement policy.

Adrian Joyce, the director of Renovate Europe, which is