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France Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

France has a national target to reduce emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. This target translates to limiting emissions levels to 329 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, excluding LULUCF.1 Current policy projections show that France is off track to meeting the target, as it is expected to reduce emissions by only 24% below 1990 levels by 2030. France’s domestic emissions would need to be reduced by 62% from 1990 levels to 206 MtCO₂e/yr in 2030, excluding LULUCF to align its economy with 1.5°C compatible domestic emissions pathways.

Unlike, for example Germany and Italy, France has not revised its national emissions reduction target since 2015. The updated EU emissions reduction goal – itself not yet compatible with 1.5°C – also suggests that France should significantly increase its ambition as it has a much higher capability to do more than most other EU member states.

France failed to stay within its first carbon budget for the 2015–2018 period, reducing emissions by only 1% per year instead of the required 2.2%. In 2021, the French Council of State ordered the government to align policies and measures with the current carbon budget by 2022 and to compensate for the 2015–2018 carbon budget overshoot. The ruling came after a study found that policies, notably in the transport and buildings sectors, were not stringent enough to meet the government’s climate targets.2 In March 2022, France introduced some new measures to increase the share of low emission vehicles and decrease the number of household heating from oil. Such measures will, however, only marginally improve the government’s ability to meet the 2030 emissions reduction target.3

To do its fair share of global climate action, France should not only increase the pace of its domestic emissions reductions, but also provide substantial support for emissions reductions to developing countries.

Long term pathway

France’s 2020 long-term strategy sets a “carbon neutrality” target for 2050. According to it, meeting this target can be achieved by reducing GHG emissions by 83% below 1990 resulting in emissions not exceeding 80 MtCO₂e in 2050 and by balancing these emissions by removals mostly in the LULUCF sector but also to a lesser extent from carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.1

To be 1.5°C compatible, France should reduce its domestic emissions by 89% by 2050 compared to 1990, excluding the LULUCF sector. This would require emissions in 2050 to not exceed 61 MtCO₂e and be fully compensated by emissions sinks and permanent carbon removal, primarily from the land sector.

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 Dugast, C. & Joly, A. Depuis sa condamnation, l’État français s’est-il donné les moyens de son ambition climat ? (2022).

4 IEA. Global EV Data Explorer – Data Tools – IEA. (2022).

5 Haut Conseil pour le Climat. Agir en cohérence avec les ambitions. Rapport annuel 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 Kinley, R. It’s time for Macron to revive French leadership on EU climate goals. Energy Monitor (2022).

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).

17 Euractiv. EU nations approve end to combustion engine sales by 2035 – (2022).

18 ACEA. Electric vehicles: Tax benefits and purchase incentives in the 27 member states of the European Union. (2022).


Franceʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
2030 national target
Ambition gap
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
Current policy projections
2030 national target
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 1990

Energy system transformation

Switching to renewable energy sources is the greatest contribution to decarbonising the energy system. Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways for France indicates a share of renewables of between 20–40% of the energy supply in 2030 and 40–60% in 2050. France’s energy system emissions are relatively low because of a high share of energy from nuclear power plants (72% from the power mix in 2022). However, the unplanned outages throughout 2022 have shown that a heavy reliance on this source of energy may have some negative repercussions and lead to higher share of fossil fuels, with resulting increased emissions.

According to the EU Renewable Energy Directive from 2009, France should have increased the share of renewables in its energy mix to at least 23% by 2020. However, it only reached 19%. The current negotiations on increasing the EU’s renewable energy target will require a higher target for the share of renewables in France too.

The decline in energy consumption is a key component in some 1.5°C scenarios we analysed. Three scenarios show reduction in energy consumption of 25–40% between 2017 and 2030, which would translate to levels of 150–186 Mtoe in 2030, and of 16–59% between 2017 and 2050. France’s law on energy transition for green growth targets primary energy consumption of 202.2 Mtoe in 2030 – which is above the 1.5°C compatible reductions.12

While our analysis shows the deployment of negative emissions technologies from bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) starting in 2040, they stay well below 20% of energy demand by 2050, except in a high energy demand scenario. In its low carbon strategy France envisions the use of BECCS to a limited extent, aiming at contributing to around -6 MtCO₂e/yr of negative emissions by 2050.6

Finally, under 1.5°C compatible pathways CO₂ emissions, largely from energy production, should reduce by 48–65% below 2015 levels by 2030. France’s Low Carbon National Strategy sets an emissions reduction target of 33% below 2015 levels by 2030.


Franceʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
201920302040205010 000
Low energy demand
201920302040205010 000
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 000
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Franceʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for France. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Reference year
Year of net zero
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
176 to 241
57 to 136
−29 to 71
Relative to reference year in %
−68 to −56%
−90 to −75%
−105 to −87%
Total CO₂
119 to 178
11 to 79
−69 to 27
2042 to 2062
Relative to reference year in %
−70 to −55%
−97 to −80%
−117 to −93%