France fails to meet climate goals, promises to double down on carbon reduction

France has said it will revise its carbon emissions target after it failed to meet its 2016 goal, according to the country’s ecology minister.

As one of the signatories of the Paris Agreement, France is obliged to keep cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global temperature rises this century well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° Celsius.

However, despite the country’s effort to maintain global momentum on sticking to the agreement, its carbon dioxide emissions rose 3.6 per cent over the targeted 447 million tonnes of CO2 emissions equivalent, the ecology department said.

Minister Nicolas Hulot said in the statement that a revised low-carbon strategy will set new targets that will take into account the plan to further reduce emissions and make France carbon neutral by 2050.

In September 2017, France pledged to phase out all oil and gas production by 2040 as part of its efforts, although this did not include the importing and refining of fossil fuels from other countries. 

It is also aiming to put an end to the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by the same date by gradually switching to electric vehicles. The UK has also made the same pledge.

Hulot said he will present measures at the end of the month as part of the strategic revision, which will help accelerate France’s energy transition.

He added that policies in the transport, housing and forestry sectors, where emissions targets were largely missed in 2016, would need to be substantially reinforced if France were to meet its emissions target.

“Every year, we will monitor the commitments made at this summit to ensure that they are followed through and we must have several working methods [to do this],” French President Emmanuel Macron said at his New Year’s address on 8 January 2018.

“The 12 December summit was a concrete event, the commitments that have been made will be monitored by non-governmental organizations, by civil society and I hope that each and every one will meet these commitments. But it was also a way of involving civil society players, philanthropists, financial stakeholders and investors in tangible projects.”

In May 2017, the French state-owned energy company EDF was forced to deny media reports that it intends to delay plans to reduce the amount of nuclear power in France’s energy mix by 25 years. 

Under current government plans, nuclear power will be reduced to less than 50 per cent of the total energy generated in the country by 2025.

Nuclear power is an effective way to generate carbon-free electricity en masse, although its usage is still controversial.

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