COUNTRY PROGRESS REPORTS/ MID-WAY 2023
Rating-C (Standing Still)
Emissions indicators are relatively sparse; most are reported annually, making it difficult to assess France’s progress in reducing emissions over the first six months of 2023. Almost all of the 45 indicators specific to Climate Change officially published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, are expressed or updated annually. As of 2021, however, Eurostat began publishing quarterly greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union. As of June 2023, this quarterly data is only available through Q4 of 2022, with quarterly data for 2023 hopefully made available soon. In the fourth quarter of 2022, for example, the EU economy’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled 939 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents, a 4 % decrease compared with the same quarter of 2021 (978 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents). France recorded emissions reductions in 2022; however, these reductions are potentially misleading and linked mainly to mild temperatures and high energy prices as opposed to effective decarbonization policies. Once the data becomes available for the first quarter of 2023, the hope is that this downward trend from 2022 will continue.
In the first six months of 2023, France has presented new, more ambitious emissions-cutting plans specifically to align itself with the EU’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Thus far, France has cut its emissions by only 25% compared to 1990 levels. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne unveiled a roadmap on 22 May 2023 for emission reductions by sector of the economy from transport to households to accelerate emissions reductions. The suggestions range from speeding up the transition to electric cars to switching freight transport from roads to rivers. The roadmap lists precise emission reduction targets by sector but is less precise about how those targets will be achieved. Prime Minister Borne personally overseas France’s ‘ecological planning,’ and the plan she presented demonstrates that to meet the 2030 targets, “emissions from buildings will need to be reduced by 53% compared to 2022, the energy sector’s emissions by 42.5%, and the industrial sector’s by 37.5%.”
The concrete actions and financing measures to hit these emissions targets were anticipated to be released by the end of June 2023. As of this writing, details around financing and policy implementation have been scarce but emphasize that half of the future cuts will be made by businesses, a quarter by local authorities, and a quarter by households. The idea is to ‘ask little from the smallest, a lot from the biggest.’ France is particularly sensitive around raising costs on small consumers in the wake of the 2018 Yellow Vest movement, which protested an increase in fuel taxes and vehicle emissions restrictions. Prime Minister Borne’s ecological planning action plan has three main components: the national low-carbon strategy, the multi-year energy planning law, and the national biodiversity strategy. The three main components of this plan can be highlighted as potential contributors to moderate progress made in emissions reductions according to a four-point scale (A – Significant Progress, B – Moderate Progress, C – Standing Still, and D – Falling Back). We can potentially register the impacts of these components in the first six months of 2023 because half of the measures contained therewithin are already engaged, notably the post-Covid stimulus plan, the France 2030 investment plan, and the renewable energy acceleration law. The second half of the plan will be documented and shared over the summer.
Firstly, in late 2020 France committed one-third of its EUR 100 billion post-Covid stimulus package towards ‘greening the economy.’ The main environmental measures focus on transport, energy production, and energy-efficient renovation programmes for public buildings, offices, and homes. Measures included shifting freight traffic from road to rail, building more cycle lanes, subsidizing cleaner cars, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings such as schools, universities, town halls, and police stations, as well as business premises and private homes. The impact of EUR 30 billion invested in such policies will hopefully be seen across a variety of sectors once emissions data for 2023 becomes available. Secondly, the France 2030 Investment Plan, unveiled in October 2021, takes over from France’s recovery plan with EUR 30 billion to fund ten top objectives, including developing innovative nuclear reactors, becoming a leader in green hydrogen, decarbonizing French industry, producing 2 million electric and hybrid vehicles, manufacturing the first low-carbon aircraft, investing in sustainable food production, and investing in the seabed. Lastly, the renewable energy acceleration law, enacted in February 2023, “empowers local authorities to create preferred go-to and no-go areas for renewable projects and to financially benefit from future developments. Among other items, it also adds a general obligation for investors to cover new buildings and large parking lots with solar panels. It will ban new photovoltaic projects that require sizable deforestation.” However, critics of the law say that the definition of go-to zones will take years to emerge and have unlikely impacted emissions in 2023 thus far. While the link between policy and emission reductions can be hard to quantify in the near term, I estimate that the long-term impact of such policies will enable France to make moderate progress against its emissions targets in 2023 and beyond.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Liana Mehring.
AFP, Le Monde with. “France Presents New, More Ambitious Emissions-Cutting Plan.” Le Monde.Fr, 22 May 2023, www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2023/05/22/france-presents-new-more-ambitious-emissions-cutting-plan_6027602_114.html.
Beaupuy, Francois De. “France Adopts Controversial Law Aimed at Boosting Renewables.” Bloomberg.Com, 7 Feb. 2023, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-07/france-adopts-controversial-law-aimed-at-boosting-renewables.
“France’s ‘big Green Recovery Plan’ Not Big Enough for Campaigners.” The Guardian, 3 Sept. 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/03/france-launches-big-green-recovery-plan-part-100bn-stimulus-covid.
Garric, Audrey. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Decreased by 2.5% in France in 2022.” Le Monde.Fr, 4 Apr. 2023, www.lemonde.fr/en/france/article/2023/04/04/greenhouse-gas-emissions-decreased-by-2-5-in-france-in-2022_6021659_7.html.
“Statistics Explained.” Statistics Explained, ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Quarterly_greenhouse_gas_emissions_in_the_EU. Accessed 29 June 2023.
“The ‘France 2030’ Plan Takes over from the France Relance Plan: 30 Billion Euros in Funding for Ten Top Objectives.” Deloitte Société d’Avocats, 13 Apr. 2023, blog.lawyers.deloitte.fr/the-france-2030-plan-takes-over-from-the-france-relance-plan-30-billion-euros-in-funding-for-ten-top-objectives.