If France can be delighted to have remained within the nails of the “carbon budget” that it has set for 2020, it has benefited from a very particular context, as well as from a methodology (for the moment) complacent.
Is France a good student in the fight against global warming? On the occasion of the delivery ofa report by France Strategy to the Prime Minister, Monday, May 22, on the financing of the ecological transition, Elisabeth Borne welcomed the action of the government in the matter. “Since 2019, our actual emissions have been consistently below our targets.she said. We are ahead of our 2019-2023 objectives and we have almost made up for the delay accumulated during the previous period.”
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guest of France Inter on Tuesday, government spokesman Olivier Véran echoed the same words. “Not only have we achieved the goal [entre 2019 et 2023]but we are, in quotes, ahead, he pointed. It seems odd to say that we are ahead of the times because of the urgency for the planet. But it’s a fact.” While IPCC scientists and NGOs insist that it is urgent to accelerate the reduction of these emissions from human activities, is France really ahead of its objectives?
An objective achieved but to be put into perspective
To affirm this, Elisabeth Borne and Olivier Véran rely on the objectives of the National Low Carbon Strategy (SNBC). This document, adopted for the first time in 2015, outlines the government’s roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sector by sector and all sectors combined, with one objective: to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. , in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
The year 2050 still seems quite distant, the SNBC sets for France a “carbon budget”, that is to say a maximum ceiling of CO2 emissions, by tranche of five years. For the 2019-2023 period, France thus had a total budget of 422 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) not to be exceeded. The verdict fell on May 2, in the last report of the association charged by the government with monitoring these emissions at the national level: “The pre-estimated level for the year 2022, which remains to be consolidated, amounts to 408 Mt CO2e, i.e. a reduction of 2.5% compared to 2021 (-6.2% compared to 2019).” Although based on factual elements, if that “looks weird”, as Olivier Véran pointed out, these figures should be put into perspective.
A decrease that may be linked to the economic situation
THE Board of state took care of it, from May 10. Seized in 2019 by the municipality of Grande-Synthe (Nord), which accuses the government of“climate inaction”the Elders cast doubt on the fact that this recent drop in emissions is the result of policies that make it possible to set this trajectory downwards on a long-term basis. “IThere is uncertainty as to whether these results are linked to government actions or to the particular context of recent years, characterized by sharp declines in activity (2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic and two confinements) then to the energy crisis (2022 with the war in Ukraine)”, writes the institution.
The Council of State relies on the differences observed from one year to the next: decrease in 9.6% in 2020, the year of all confinements. Effect “bounce” in 2021, with an increase in emissions of 6.4%. And finally, a drop of 2.5% in 2022. Whether or not the latter is linked to the economic situation, it shows that France, on an energy diet, is not immune to the yoyo effect.
The High Council for the Climate, responsible for determining the impact of public policies on greenhouse gas emissions, shows in its latest report of June 2022 that government action “progressing but still insufficient” to meet the challenges that France has set itself. On the 25 guidelines set by the SNBC, only six had resulted, in 2021, in measures commensurate with the ambitions. Fifteen orientations benefited from measures “punctually in phase” with the SNBC and four others were “out of phase”. With such a record, “major risks of not achieving the objectives set by France for the reduction of greenhouse gases persist”worries the institution.
Ambitions revised downwards in 2020
Especially since, since the adoption of this roadmap in 2015, France has reduced its ambitions. In the first version of the SNBC, the French carbon budget was not 422 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, but 398 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. If we refer to this initial objective, the country is not “in advance” of 14 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, but behind by 10 million tonnes.
To justify this readjustment, adopted by decree in 2020, the Prime Minister at the time, Edouard Philippe, had estimated that the delays in the objectives for the 2015-2018 tranche could not be “caught up” and should therefore be reflected by “concern for sincerity and realism” on a later installment.
However, the 2024-2028 budget remained almost unchanged, going from 357 to 359 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The effort to reduce emissions will therefore have to be much more marked in the years to come, as Elisabeth Borne declared in her presentation on Monday of the outline of the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse by 2030.
The blind spot of imported emissions
Finally, displaying a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on the national territory does not mean that the country can be awarded the gold medal for the fight against global warming. A computer made in China, a Brazilian steak, a pair of trainers made in Bangladesh… These emissions induced by the consumption, in France, of goods produced abroad are not subtracted from the carbon budget defined in the SNBC.
However, they put the scope of the tricolor effort into perspective: in 2017, date of the last comparison between the two calculation methodsFrance’s emissions jump from 445 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent to 633 million tonnes when these so-called “imported” emissions are taken into account.
As early as 2019, the High Council for the Climate recommended to the government to‘”improve the characterization of imported emissions” and of “clarify how these emissions will be reduced in a consistent with the objective of carbon neutrality in 2050″. Article 8 of the Energy Climate Law (voted in 2019) provides that from 2022, the revisions of the SNBC introduce a ceiling of‘”emissions generated by the production and transport to France of imported goods and services, by subtracting those generated by the production of exported goods and services”. Appointment is made in 2025, date of the next update of this carbon budget, decidedly more and more tight.
Source: France TV Info