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France to slash energy use in half

French Parliament passes law to reduce energy use, boost renewables and cut nuclear power
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
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While the UK government has been busy ending offshore and onshore wind subsidies, scrapping the Green Deal and lifting a ban on neonicotinoids, France has been busy pushing through ambitious energy targets that set the standard for the rest of the EU.

Following long debates, the French Parliament adopted the Energy Transition law proposed by its Environment and Energy Minister Ségolène Royal, six months ahead of the global climate conference in Paris (Paris COP 2015).

Why do I Care? Elysée Palace hosts Summit of Conscience to address the climate crisis

The Energy Bill

Under the law, France must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 (on 1990 levels).

The Energy Bill also requires a 50% reduction in energy consumption by 2050 (compared with 2012 levels) and commits France to meeting 32% of its energy needs with renewables by 2030.

Three years ago, renewable energy accounted for just 13.7% of France’s energy mix.

‘We have been waiting for the Energy Transition to take place since the beginning of François Hollande’s mandate. A law has finally been adopted, setting clear objectives. Now the President has to take concrete measures to reduce the share of nuclear power in France, by closing nuclear plants and expanding renewable energies.’

Yannick Rousselet, energy expert at Greenpeace France

Cuts to nuclear

France is the most nuclear-dependent country in the world. With 58 reactors in 19 power stations, it is also the second-biggest producer of nuclear energy.

Slashing the use of nuclear energy was one of President François Hollande’s key promises in his 2012 election campaign.

Nuclear energy currently provides 75% of France’s electricity; under the new law approved by the National Assembly last Wednesday, it will provide 50% by 2025.

Hikes to carbon tax

Every five years, the French parliament will need to produce ‘carbon budgets’ that set emission limits for each sector of the economy.

Hikes in the ‘carbon tax’ have also been mapped out; the new carbon price will reach €56 per tonne by 2020 and €100 by 2030.

A local example of global plans

Environment Minister Ségolène Royal has said she wants France to become ‘a nation of environmental excellence’, and that the reforms will create 100,000 new jobs in the green sector over the next three years.

‘This law aims to turn France into a nation of environmental excellence, an ecological force that locally exemplifies what it plans to advocate globally at the Paris Climate Summit.’

Ségolène Royal, Environment Minister

Campaigners are now urging the government to step up in its role as COP21 host and set out a robust pathway to achieving the ambitious targets set out in the new legislation.

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