France is struggling to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions

Posted on: 11 January 2023

France is struggling to lower its CO2 emissions despite its efforts. France is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030, an ambition that must be reinforced to take into account new European objectives (–55%).
Unfortunately, recent figures show that France's CO2 emissions have increased slightly in recent years.
The main reason for this lack of progress is that France is struggling to adapt to the energy transition, which means that it is struggling to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and to promote renewable energy production.

The measures taken by France

France has taken several measures to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
It has implemented policies aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging the use of renewable energies, promotingenergetic efficiency and implement taxes on fossil fuels. France has also adopted the Climate Plan, which provides a framework for implementing policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiatives taken by France should have a positive impact on its long-term emissions, provided that the country continues to invest in sustainable and low-carbon solutions.

It also includes programs to promote the development of renewable energies, including wind and solar power, and to improve transport efficiency. Greenhouse gas emission reductions will also be supported by mitigation measures, such as improving forests, land management and maintaining fertile soils.

To compensate for its nuclear fleet and its transport difficulties, France is turning more to fossil fuels. Therefore, the country is working hard to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions have almost stagnated (-0,3%) over the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to provisional data from Citepa (Interprofessional technical study center for atmospheric pollution), the agency responsible for establishing France's emissions inventory.

Industry contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions

The main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in industry are factories and industrial activities that produce and consume fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil.
These fuels are burned to produce energy, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Other sources of greenhouse gas emissions in industry include factories that produce chemicals and factories that produce manufactured goods. Production processes, which include fuel refining, steel and aluminum production, wastewater treatment and chemical manufacturing, are also significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Emissions from general industry have nevertheless decreased by 5% (53,9 tonnes of CO2 equivalent), according to Citepa. We thus recorded -2% for chemicals, -5% for agro-food, -11% for ferrous metals and -4% for non-metallic minerals and construction materials.

C02 emissions by sector in France

Greenhouse gases and CO2 are closely linked. Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb and retain heat in the Earth's atmosphere. CO2 is one of the main greenhouse gases and is responsible for more than 65% of the greenhouse effect. Other greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide and nitrous oxide. Concentrations of these greenhouse gases are rising sharply, leading to higher average temperatures and climate change observed across the globe.

The main sectors that emit greenhouse gases are:
– Transport: cars, trucks, planes, boats,
– Industry: energy production, use of chemical agents and factories,
– Agriculture: agricultural practices, animal husbandry,
– Buildings: construction, heating and air conditioning,
– Waste: landfills, incineration,
– Forestry activities: deforestation and forest fires.

The High Council for the Climate, in its 2021 general public report, gives close orders of magnitude, summarized in this infographic (based on the CITEPA report):

How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are several measures that can be taken:

  • Make more efficient energy choices by installing renewable energy systems (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) and energy efficiency technologies.
  • Reduce waste and recycle more to avoid landfill methane emissions.
  • Make buildings more energy efficient by using insulating materials, installing energy efficient equipment and using renewable energy sources.
  • For companies: adopt more sustainable practices and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Use more sustainable and fuel-efficient means of transport, such as cycling, public transport or carpooling.

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This relative stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions is not good news. If France wants to keep its climate commitments, it must redouble its efforts.

According to the government's roadmap to combat climate change, the National Low Carbon Strategy (SNBC), France must reduce an average of 16 million tonnes by 2030, a decrease of 4,7%.

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