August 2, 2021

France is still not in the nails to achieve its objectives in 2030

It’s a safe bet that the annual report of the High Climate Council (HCC) will be closely scrutinized. This document, published Tuesday, June 29 by the independent body made up of 13 experts, is the last of the five-year term, and will therefore weigh in taking stock of the government’s climate policies. It appears, moreover, in a context of legal tug of war: the decisions of the Council of State and the administrative tribunal of Paris, which judge the State for “climate inaction” and “faulty deficiency”, are imminent.

After two previous annual reports that crushed government action, the 3e edition produced by this structure created at the end of 2018 remains severe. Despite a “Increased reduction in emissions” at national level and in most regions, “The current efforts are insufficient to guarantee the achievement of the objectives” climate change for 2030, say climate, economics, agronomy and energy transition specialists. Once again, France is making progress, but not fast enough if it wants to meet the objectives it has set itself: carbon neutrality by 2050 and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.

The rate of decline in emissions increased slightly in 2019 (- 1.9% over one year), which is more than the target set for that year. In 2020, emissions would have fallen by 9%, according to preliminary estimates. This unprecedented decrease is however not linked to structural changes, but to the Covid-19 pandemic, which reduced economic activity, as well as to a winter classified by Météo France as the hottest since 1900. At the level worldwide, the International Energy Agency anticipates a rebound in emissions of 5% in 2021.

A drastic reduction planned in the medium term

Above all, France has yet to accelerate due to the “Accumulated delay”. The annual rate of emission reduction will have to practically double, to reach at least 3% by 2021 and 3.3% on average over the period 2024-2028, warns the HCC. “We are not in the nails, in particular because the government postponed part of the effort until later”, recalls Corinne Le Quéré, climatologist at the British University of East Anglia, who chairs the HCC. The government, failing to meet its objectives for the period 2015-2018, has indeed raised the carbon budgets – the emission ceilings – for the period 2019-2023, allowing itself to pollute more in the short term, but making it necessary to reduce discharges more drastically in the medium term.

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