France is actively addressing the climate challenge
Climate change has been a priority for the French government since the early 1990s. French climate policy has constantly been stepped up since then. This policy is being implemented at all levels:
national exemplarity, through a low-carbon energy mix and significant sectoral efforts enabling France to uphold its climate commitments;
commitment at regional level, by encouraging the European Union to adopt ambitious emissions reduction targets and strengthen its leadership in negotiations;
international solidarity, through mobilization of funding to help developing countries tackle climate change and ensure access to sustainable energy for all.
France has chosen the path of environmental exemplarity
France accounts for only 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, whereas it contributes up to 4% of global GDP. It ranks among the industrial countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, in terms of both emissions per capita and emissions per GDP unit. This is the result of not only an electricity mix based primarily on nuclear energy, but also proactive greenhouse gas emission reduction policies. Between 1990 and 2007, greenhouse gas emissions covered by the Kyoto Protocol thus fell by 7% to 522.4MtCO2e.
To progress still further, the French authorities committed themselves, during the environment conference of 20-21 September2013, to integrating sustainable development into all their policies. The five priority areas of action for2014 were:
the circular economy, which should help develop recycling and waste recovery and promote territorialized channels;
jobs and the ecological transition;
marine biodiversity, the sea and the oceans;
environmental and sustainable development education.
Finally, following the national debate organized in 2013, an energy transition law will pass in 2015, as the President of the French Republic announced at the opening of the environment conference. The law will include, in particular, a climate energy contribution (CCE) which will help promote low-carbon economic growth.
France and access to sustainable energy
Energy is central to the challenge of sustainable development, at once in economic, social and environmental terms. It is viewed today as a major issue in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda.
Development assistance is crucial in the energy sector, in order to combat the current energy poverty which is limiting the development of the poorest countries. This assistance should promote sustainable energy sources, however, in order to ensure compatibility with low-carbon development trajectories.
France’s action in this area is structured around four key objectives:
give priority to renewables and energy efficiency;
improve energy access in rural and peri-urban areas;
make energy systems stronger and more secure;
improve energy policy and stakeholder capacity.
These objectives are given concrete expression in French development assistance decisions. For example, of the €7.4billion allocated to the energy sector by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) since 2007, €5.8billion has been used for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.€5.8billion earmarked for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects since 2007.
Beyond national level, France also encourages the mobilization of private funds alongside traditional assistance, innovative mechanisms such as the ACP-EU Energy Facility, and global coordination around the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative launched in 2012 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This initiative has three major objectives: ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030. France is the second largest European contributor to SE4All.
For further information:
Download the reference sheet "France and access to sustainable energy" (November 2012), detailing France’s action for sustainable energy
Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
Agence Française de Développement
French Global Environment Facility (FFEM)
French Environment and Energy Management Agency
Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative