This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Stephanie Tapolsky
France’s current law targets decrease emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
As one of the first European countries to pass a carbon neutrality law, la LOI n° 2019-1147 du 8 novembre 2019 relative à l’énergie et au climat was singed into French law in November 2019. Part of the French governments broader 2015 Paris Agreement commitments, the law incorporated the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 into the French energy code. In addition, it included various mechanisms and targets through which to reduce carbon emissions. Currently, national law is targeting a decrease in emissions of 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Measures through which to achieve this include closing all remaining coal plants by 2022, extending France’s dependence on low-emission nuclear energy, increasing hydroelectric power, and making homes more energy efficient. Unfortunately, this target and the actions through which to meet it have been questioned in recent months with the government exceeding its allocated carbon budgets in the past several years and being accused of not being ambitious enough. Consequently, in February 2021, a French court convicted the French state of failing to adequately address climate change and show adequate progress to meet its legally binding emission reduction targets.
Regardless of these shortcomings, France is relying upon an extensive framework of intersecting national and European laws and policies to achieve their targets. The most recently passed national climate law, la loi Climat et Résilience passed in May 2021, has been denounced by environmental groups as being a wasted opportunity, lacking ambition and resulting in too little of an impact. The bill includes many concrete actions to lower emissions such as banning domestic flights where the train takes less than two and half hours, requiring airlines to carbon offset domestic flights, introducing stronger vehicle regulations, making ecocide illegal, requiring landlords to renovate their buildings to be more energy efficient and more. Despite these measures, an impact analysis from a group of over 100 NGOs found that these measures would not result in France being able to achieve their 40% reduction target. Opponents have also argued that the measures reduced the ambition and reach of the proposals that came from the Citizens Convention on Climate that occurred last year.
The government has outlined additional broad strategies for their long-term 2050 carbon neutrality goal. These include having a fully carbon-free energy system by 2050, cutting in half energy consumption through enhanced energy efficiency and behavior change, reducing non-energy emissions, specifically by 38% in farming and 60% in industry compared to 2015 levels, and increasing and safeguarding carbon sinks around the country. A signatory to the Paris Agreement, France submitted their first National Determined Contribution (NDC) in May of 2016; France provided an updated submission in April 2021.
The extensive reach of the policies to many segments of the French economy and society is impressive. However, it is far from clear that the French government is making enough progress. Positively, the European Environmental Agency reported that France’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 of 458.6 Mt CO2 equivalents (preliminary estimate) represented a 17.7% percent decline from 1990 levels of 556.9 Mt CO2 equivalents. However, as outlined above, the ability for France to meet their 40% reduction target is being questioned. Additionally, the European Parliament agreed in December 2020 to increase their targeted emission reduction to at least 55% by 2030, 15% higher than that currently targeted by French law. Overall, while France seems to have strong laws and plans to reduce their emissions and meet their climate targets, the government must do more to ensure these targets are met, or, even better, exceeded.
Minister for the ecological transition
Hôtel de Roquelaure,
246 bd Saint-Germain,
01 40 81 21 22