What should France do?

1

Enhance NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP26:

  • Phase-out immediately and without any conditionality direct support for fossil fuel projects overseas
  • Implement key recommendations of the High Council on Climate Change (HCC)
  • End direct support for fossil fuel projects overseas at an earlier date
2

Build a just and resilient recovery plan:

  • Scale up the share of the French recovery plan earmarked for climate investments to 37% and biodiversity investments to 10% , instead of the current 30%
  • Exclude supports for new nuclear, non-renewable hydrogen, combustion vehicles from the recovery plan
  • Stop unconditional public supports to the private sector, as some public funding could support the recovery of environmentally harmful activities

What you need to know about France?

  • France included the 2050 carbon neutrality objective in its 2019 Climate and Energy Law, in line with its long term strategy. However, its 2030 emissions reduction target remains insufficient, at -40% compared to 1990
  • Green investments (public/private) reached €43.7bn in 2017 and €45.7bn in 2018, but an additional €15 to 18bn yearly are needed to be in line with a carbon neutrality pathway
  • In 2020, mainly because of the pandemic and not as a result of structural reforms, France has reached its emission reduction targets, its emissions being even 8,1% lower than its targets. Main sources of emissions are from the transport sector (29% of GHG emissions), agriculture (21%) and industry (19%).
  • Macron’s 2030 investment plan of 30bn euros that was published in October 2021 is heavily focused on technologies and include some worrying elements, such as nuclear power investment.
Recovery Measures to Highlight

  • France’s recovery plan includes €100 billion of spending over 2 years (2020-2022) with 30bn in green investments
  • However at least €22bn could support dirty investments
  • Flagship measures include investments at scale in the building sector (retrofitting of public buildings mainly) and transport sector (support to the railway industry, EVs, bike plan)

Recent developments, threats and levers for action

Recent developments

  • As the President of the European Council for 6 months until June 2022, France is in charge of implementing an ambitious Green Deal
  • On October 2021, the French government was condemned for climate inaction and was ordered to repair its 2015-2018 emissions overshoot before December 31st, 2022. This should force the presidential candidates to position themselves on how they intend to meet the new target by the end of 2022.
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, citizen’s level of awareness and concern for the environment have never been so high in opinion polls
  • The adoption of the Climate and Resilience Law in July 2021 has been a massive disappointment. It did not take into account most of the recommendations that came out from the Citizen’s Convention on Climate in June 2020. Most of the measures are empty and not ambitious enough to reach national targets.
  • The election of pro-climate mayors in French cities in June 2020 remains an opportunity to showcase the benefits of climate action at the local level. The upcoming presidential election in 2022 will be a test to assess whether this trend is confirmed.
  • On 3 September 2020, the French government released the details of the French recovery plan. In total, the plan announces €100 billion of spending over 2 years (2020-2022). If implemented along with the right environmental and social safeguards, it has the potential to accelerate the reduction of GHG emissions at the national level. The Package offers generous incentives to EVs seeking to turn French as the leading EV manufacturer in EU

Strengths

  • Initial version of the French recovery plan with 30bn earmarked for green investments
  • Pro-climate mayors in major French cities
  • Strong level of awareness of French citizens

Opportunities

  • Upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2022
  • Climate law going through Parliament to translate CCC measures
  • Upcoming IUCN and Finance in Common summits, in lead up to UNFCCC COP26 and CBD COP15, are opportunities for France to show leadership and solidarity international, especially on climate, biodiversity and finance
  • France will also hold the EU Presidency, starting in January 2022; at a time when major policies on the implementation of the European Green Deal are expected to land. This will also be an opportunity for France to affirm a strong stance on the need to align trade policies with climate, social and biodiversity objectives
  • Climate law going through Parliament to translate CCC measures

Weaknesses

  • Climate is missing from the presidential and parliamentary elections’ debates
  • Government reshuffle in July 2020, with little interest for climate from new ministers
  • Missed opportunity with the adoption of a weak Climate and Resilience Law

Threats

  • Growing push back on environmental measures due to economic crisis
  • Social tensions due to the crisis and lack of social justice measures
  • Polarization of the debate around the ecological transition by the political class ahead of national elections

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26.

Check other Snapshots