France’s action to reduce its greenhouse gases and meet its climate commitments is “insufficient”, estimates the High Council for the Climate in its annual report published Thursday. It warns of the “major risks” of not achieving the objectives for 2030.
A “jump in climate action in France” is called for. Despite a downward trend in emissions, France’s climate action is still “insufficient” to achieve the objectives for 2030, judge Wednesday, June 29 the High Council for the climate (HCC).
The annual report of the HCC, an independent authority which, since its creation by Emmanuel Macron, has highlighted each year the state’s “insufficient” response to global warming. The latter is making its growing impacts felt in France with an increase in heat waves, droughts or extreme rains.
“Congratulations for what has been done so far. Now, we really need to change levels, we need a leap in climate action”, summarizes for AFP its president, climatologist Corinne Le Quéré.
A necessary start because “major risks of not achieving the objectives set by France for the reduction of greenhouse gases persist”, underlines the text. And “all the more important” in the context of the war in Ukraine as it “would make it possible to reduce France’s strong dependence on imports of fossil fuels and mineral fertilizers”.
Positive measures, but a “modest” reduction in emissions
France is committed to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. With this in mind, the National Low Carbon Strategy (SNBC) sets emission ceilings but the first “carbon budget” 2015- 2018 has been passed. And the government has raised the ceilings for 2019-2023, effectively postponing the effort to be made.
In this context, over the 2019-2021 period, despite a “partial rebound” in 2021 with the post-Covid recovery, a drop of 1.7% makes it possible to remain under the planned carbon budget, but “mainly” due to the pandemic and raising the ceilings, notes the HCC.
However, the report notes positive measures, in particular new rules for the energy performance of new buildings and the development of low-carbon energies in agriculture. And for the first time in 2021, emissions from all the major sectors are down (compared to 2019, excluding the Covid rebound), even if for agriculture and transport this recent decrease “remains to be confirmed”.
Over the last decade, 2010-2019, emissions have fallen by 1.9% per year on average, leading to a drop of 23.1% in 2021 compared to 1990. A “modest” reduction trajectory, and lower than the European average, notes the HCC. And still far from the 2030 objective which will be reinforced by the new EU climate plan providing for a reduction in European emissions of at least 55%. The new objective of France should thus be -50% by 2030, according to the HCC and the government.
So “the reduction in emissions would have to be more than doubled over the period that remains to us until 2030 to reach a 4.7% reduction in emissions per year”, insists Corinne Le Quéré. That is a reduction of 16 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year on average compared to 8 million per year over the last decade. The SNBC, which will be revised, only foresees a drop of 12 Mt eqCO2 per year (-3.2% per year on average).
Ways to improve
Beyond the criticisms, the High Council is pleased that the Prime Minister is now directly responsible for ecological planning, and recommends in particular, to make this planning “operational”, a multi-annual programming of climate financing.
To provide “necessary visibility to companies, households, public actors who will implement the transition”, underlines Benoît Leguet, member of the HCC.
The report also pleads for a “strong restructuring” of the forest-wood sector, worrying about a significant degradation of French forests, essential carbon sinks to hope to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. Their storage capacities fell between 2013 and 2019, before a recovery in 2020, absorbing over the period 60% less than anticipated by the SNBC.