France is struggling to reduce CO2 emissions

France is currently struggling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as it uses more fossil fuels to offset the challenges of its nuclear fleet as well as transport.

In the first nine months of the year, these global warming emissions have almost stagnated (-0.3%) compared to the same period in 2021, according to provisional data provided by Citepa, the French inventory authority. A trend away from the decline needed to keep the country’s liabilities afloat.

“These figures inevitably worry us, but we expected it, there are no miracles,” replies Jérémie Suissa, chief representative of the NGO Notre affair à tous, which condemned the state for its climate inaction last year. “We haven’t done what we need to do to reduce emissions at all,” he lamented the lack of ambitious policies in terms of public transport or renewable energy.

According to Citepa, emissions in power generation increased by a remarkable 12% in nine months. “This is especially explained by the shutdown of many nuclear reactors in 2022, which led to the use of thermal power plants,” he notes.

Gas consumption is increasing

France has actually faced the unavailability of part of its nuclear fleet, especially with the problem of micro-cracks. To make up for this shortfall, the country has never used as much gas to generate electricity as it did this year. Because of the energy crisis caused by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the government also gave up closing the coal-fired power plant in Saint-Avold (Moselle) this winter.

Citepa also points to a 4% increase in transport emissions, with a congested evolution depending on the month. Michel Colombier, a member of the Supreme Council, said: “We are returning to the pre-Covid mode of operation in the transport sector, which continues to rise, and we are not seeing any real structural changes at the moment.” climate (HCC).

These trends are clearly out of step with the reductions needed to meet France’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It has committed to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030, an ambition that needs to be strengthened to take account of the new European targets. (-55%). According to the HCC, the country needs to double its emissions reduction rate to -4.7% per year over the period 2022-2030.


However, Michel Colombier calls for sorting out the economic data – with the corrosion problems of nuclear reactors – and the underlying trends. “We cannot draw conclusions about our ability to achieve goals from this stagnation,” he says.

However, it points to major challenges in the areas of transport and energy. Second, we “urgently need to develop renewable energy sources because we have a fragile, over-dependent nuclear fleet,” which could still hold nasty “surprises.”

Back to court?

In a dispute brought before a Paris administrative court by NGOs united under the banner of the “Deal of the Century”, emissions are being scrutinized even more as the state is given until December 31 to act more decisively on the 2021 justice climate plan.

NGOs now say they are ready to go to court to seek financial penalties again in 2023, believing the state is not doing enough. Jérémie Suissa emphasizes: “The next step is to request a penalty for the real implementation of the judge’s decision by the state.”

“The government is fully committed to meeting its climate commitments,” the Energy Transition Ministry says, highlighting a series of measures in favor of a further ban on renewable energy, prudence, cycling, driving or even renting thermal filters…

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