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. 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. 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.
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.
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.