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What is Franceʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: October 2021

Ambition gap

Franceʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−120%−100%−80%−60%−40%−20%0%19902010203020502070
Reference year
1990
1.5°C emissions level
−62%
2030 National Target
−40%
Ambition gap
−22%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways

Summary

France targets emissions reductions of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, which translates to 329 MtCO₂e/yr, excluding LULUCF by 2030.1

1 Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire. La transition écologique et solidaire vers la neutralité carbone. (2020).

2 Conseil d’Etat. Émissions de gaz à effet de serre : le Conseil d’État enjoint au Gouvernement de prendre des mesures supplémentaires avant le 31 mars 2022. (2021).

3 Observatoire Climat Energie. Transports – OBSERVATOIRE CLIMAT-ÉNERGIE. (2019).

4 Haut Conseil pour le Climat. Agir en cohérence avec les ambitions. Premier Rapport Annuel Du Haut Conseil Pour Le Climat. (2019).

5 Haut Conseil pour le Climat. Agir en cohérence avec les ambitions. Rapp. Annu. Neutralité Carbone (2019).

6 Government of France. National Climate and Energy Plan. (2020).

7 Ministère de l’Écologie. The Ecological and Inclusive Transition Towards Carbon Neutrality. 1–29 (2018).

8 Haut Conseil pour le Climat. Renforcer L’Attenuation , Engager L’Adaptation. Rapport Annuel 2021. (2021).

9 International Energy Agency database. Energy Data and Statistics. (2021). supply&indicator=TPESbySource

10 Ministère de la Transition Ecologique. Les énergies renouvelables en France en 2020 – Suivi de la directive 2009/28/CE relative à la promotion de l’utilisation des énergies renouvelables | Données et études statistiques. (2021).

11 European Commission. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council, (…) as regards the promotion of energy from renewable sources (…). (2021).

12 Legifrance. LOI n° 2015-992 du 17 août 2015 relative à la transition énergétique pour la croissance verte (1) – Légifrance.(2015).

13 Ministère de la Transition écologique. Loi de transition énergétique pour la croissance verte | Ministère de la Transition écologique. (2015).

14 La Tribune. La France ne sortira finalement pas du charbon en 2022 : la reconversion de la centrale EDF de Cordemais est abandonnée. (2021).

15 Haut Conseil pour le Climat. Rapport annuel 2021. (2021).

16 Ministère de la Transition écologique. Plan de rénovation énergétique des bâtiments | Ministère de la Transition écologique. (2021).

France’s national target stands far from a 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathway. It would need to reduce domestic emissions by 62% from 1990 levels to levels of 210 MtCO₂e/yr in 2030, excluding LULUCF, to be 1.5°C compatible, leaving an ambition gap of around 120 MtCO₂e/yr in 2030.

The lack of stringent policies, notably in transport and buildings, the largest emitting sectors in the country, sets the country to miss its national target. This has led the French Council of State – the highest judicial authority in France – to order the government to align policies with the current target by 2022 and compensate for emissions above budget]

A full fair share contribution to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions compatible with the Paris Agreement would require France to go further than its domestic emissions target, and provide substantial support for emission reductions to developing countries on top of its domestic reductions.

France’s long-term strategy aims at reaching net zero GHG by 2050 – with a level of sinks from the land sector of around -80 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 to balance remaining emissions from other sectors, mostly agriculture. France’s net zero target was signed into law in 2019.

Our analysis shows that for France to be 1.5°C compatible, emissions would need to be 92% below 1990 levels by 2050, excluding LULUCF, and would need to balance residual emissions with removals not higher than 47 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 – close to half of the residual emissions the country is aiming for by mid-century.

Power

Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

While France already benefits from a relatively low emitting power sector, 1.5°C compatible pathways show the need for a rapid fall of carbon intensity in the power sector by 82% below 2017 levels.

Decarbonisation of the power sector would need to be driven by a coal phase out in 2025 and a gas phase out between 2035 and 2038. While France has announced a coal phase-out by 2022, the country has recently revised its plan to keep one power plant running at 10% capacity, effectively postponing the phase out to between 2024 and 2026.

Setting up policies fostering the development of renewables will be key in the transition as the country aims to reduce its reliance on nuclear in power generation to 50% by 2035, compared to 75% in 2019.

Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways shows an uptake of renewables in the power mix of between 59-84% by 2030. France generated 17% of its electricity from renewables in 2017 and close to 27% in 2020.

Footnotes