France: The 2021 Climate Year in Review

France: The 2021 Climate Year in Review


  • Case of Century, a lawsuit that resulted in the government being condemned for its inaction in relation to climate change
  • Citizens Climate Convention
  • Adoption of New Climate Law
  • Commitment to Reduce Methane Emissions by 30% by 2030



Last year, the French government went through three phases on the environmental front.

The first was a phase of judgement, with “The Case of the century” finally coming to an end and the Administrative Tribunal of Paris condemning the state for its inaction in a lawsuit. Supported by over 2.3 millions of citizens and several non-profit organizations, the country was sentenced to fix the damage (by the end of 2022) it caused by not keeping up with the  greenhouse gas emission goals it set for itself between 2015 and 2018.

The phase of questioning followed through the Citizen Climate Convention; this convention unites hundreds of citizens over several months to come up with new ideas and proposals to improve our current situation. The Convention came up with a list of 149 proposals, which then was passed on to MPs for debate.

Finally, the time for decisions came and went. The recommendations made by the Convention led to a new law being passed in August 2021. Overall it includes the new labelling of products and services to reflect their impact on the environment, puts a stronger emphasis in the education sector on the knowledge of the impacts of the ecologic transition and sustainable development, forbids advertising for any product with an excessive impact on the climate, forbids the promotion of a service or product as “carbon neutral” (or equivalent) unless the means to reach such a neutrality are explained, and creates a report on the environmental impact of different kinds of media (to be published every other year) among other things.

The country was of course present at the COP26, pushing change. It decided to reduce its methane emissions by 30% by 2030 (using the 2020 figures as a starting point). Methane is currently the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide, which makes this decision quite major.

What Lies Ahead

France still has to reach its goal of reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Better yet, they can set an example as the country heads into the Presidency of the European Union and aligns with its goal of -55% in the same timeframe, before reaching net zero by 2050.

The current efforts of the international community are far from sufficient to limit climate change and would, at this stage, lead us to a global rise of about 2.7ᵒC by the end of the century. Sadly, the actions of one arguably small country will not be enough to tip the scales.

France is ranked well by organizations such as Zero Tracker, though even they state it could benefit from a more detailed plan, and some could argue more transparency on what their future pluriannual plans and strategy should include. The ministry of the ecologic transition could potentially update its website more often than every trimester to keep the taxpayers paying their salaries informed (at this stage, their website is still mentioning “the next [..] is the COP26, which will take place in Glasgow” and speaking about the pre-COP meetings to be attended by the minister… over three months ago!).

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Astrid Nouvellet


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