By Anders Lorenzen
While global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are on the rise, the French can pat themselves on the back, after data states that in 2018 CO2 emissions fell by 4.2%.
The transport sector was earmarked for a drop in emissions, but the drop was a combination of a mild winter and an abundant supply of French nuclear which also curbed the use of thermal power. While France’s neighbour Germany has been busy decommissioning their nuclear power stations resulting in an increase in coal power and emissions, France has been far more resistant about decreasing their low-carbon nuclear power supply. President Emmanuel Macron has delayed the plan to decrease nuclear capacity from 75% by 2025, and to 50% by 2035.
French emissions were estimated at 445 million tonnes of CO2, the French environment ministry said. This indicated the first drop in emissions after they had been increasing for two consecutive years. Despite national economic growth, the ministry said that the decrease was mainly down to a reduction in GHG emissions from the transport sector. It is the first time since 2013 that France’s transport emissions have declined, indicating that the government`s approach in reducing emissions from transport is working.
Due to the mild winter, there was a reduced need for heating and, apart from nuclear, French hydropower played an important part.
The French President Emmanuel Macron has been one of the main players among European heavyweights who have demanded increased ambition, focus and action on tackling climate change, and have recently introduced legislation for a net zero emission target.
Parts of France recently experienced extreme weather, including extreme heat as well as storms of large hailstones with the latter destroying great swathes of crops and caused the government to declare a state of emergency. So France is not protected from climate-induced extreme weather events, which climate scientists say will only increase as the planet continues to warm.