France’s carbon budget: progress and challenges

France has managed to stick to its carbon budget for the period 2019-2023, according to the annual report published by Citepa, the independent body responsible for France’s carbon pollution inventory. However, the country has encountered difficulties in reducing emissions from transport, which remains the leading emitting sector. In this article, we look at the report’s findings, the sectors that have succeeded in reducing their emissions and those that have failed, and the challenges ahead for France in its transition to a low-carbon economy.

CO2 emissions down, but targets still not met

The energy sector took first place on the podium, thanks to an increase in decarbonized electricity production, the return of strong nuclear power generation, and a rise in hydroelectric, wind and solar power production. Emissions from the residential tertiary sector have also fallen, thanks to sober behavior on the part of households and businesses, a reduced need for heating thanks to the weather, and ongoing thermal renovations. However, these results fall far short of our targets. For industry, the decline in emissions is mainly due to production cuts, in addition to ongoing decarbonization efforts.

The main area of concern remains transport, the largest emitting sector. A lasting decline and the effect of electrification are not yet visible, despite a resumption of the decline of around 3% in 2023, fuelled by fuel price rises and the decline of diesel. In the air transport sector, emissions soared year-on-year, both on domestic flights (up 21%, above the pre-Ovid level) and on international flights (up nearly 30%). Emissions only include domestic activities, not those linked to imports.