After COP21 and the signing of the “Paris agreement” in New York, the world leaders have defined the development direction towards a low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate resilient society. This means changing the mindset of how we do everyday business and cutting GHG emissions from every sector.
What does this mean to France? What are the sectors that France is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions the most? What are France climate and energy goals?
Climate change has been a priority for the French government for years now and COP21 last November marked a key milestone towards a greener nation. Approved in August 2015, the “law for energy transition and green growth” sets ambitious goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the country :
- by Reducing by 40% in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2030;
- Cutting by half the energy consumption by 2050;
- Reducing the use of fossil fuels by 30% (compared to 2012) by 2030;
- Raising the proportion of renewable energy to 32% of final energy consumption in 2030 and 40% of electricity generation;
- Diversifying the production of electricity and reducing to 50% the share of nuclear in 2025;
- Reducing by 50% the waste put in landfills in 2025.
To achieve those goals, the following measures are currently being implemented:
- Building energy efficient housing: with tax credits, incentive interest rate (0%) on loans used to finance energy renovation work
- Giving priority to clean transport: incentive for individuals to buy electric vehicles to replace old diesel vehicle (€ 10,000), business mobility plans to encourage carpooling among employees, tax incentives for companies, use of electric cars within state and local administrations…
- Fighting against waste production and promotion of recycling: control of planned obsolescence, banning of disposable and non-compostable plastic bags, fight against food waste, especially in school canteens and catering services of the State and communities.
- Building Up Renewable Energy: generalization of the single permit for wind energy, biogas and hydroelectricity, support to renewable energy premiums, tenders and calls for projects, development of “méthanisateurs” to produce biogas from agricultural waste.
The fight against global warming is not only an issue for the central government: citizens by themselves, businesses, local governments are active in this field too. For instance, many cities like Paris, Lyon or Bordeaux, are currently reducing transports with individual cars, developing clean public transports and solutions for carpooling or “bikepooling” with electric cars.
The French institutions, as it was already done during the COP21, are promoting those initiatives, both in the framework of the Lima – Paris Action Agenda and with a website dedicated to the promotions of citizen initiatives, visible in various languages: http://100projetspourleclimat.gouv.fr/en/
What are the concrete projects and activities that France has taken after COP21 to ensure its leader status in the fight against climate change?
As you know, France is chairing COP21 untill the next meeting in Morocco this autumn. Mrs Segolene Royal, minister for the environment, energy, and transport is now chairing COP21. After Paris agreement’s conclusion, the next – and huge – step is to organize the implementation of the commitments that were made in Paris.
The first concrete step was the official signature of the Paris Agreement on 22nd of April 2016 in New-York : 175 parties (174 countries and the European Union) signed the Paris Agreement. A historic and record number compared to the previous 119 signatures obtained at the opening day for the signing of an international agreement, previously held by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed in Montego Bay in 1982. Fifty-five heads of State and government, including the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, the Chinese Vice-Premier, Zhang Gaoli, and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, travelled to New York.
Then ratification of the Agreement by the parties and more importantly, its implementation were the main objectives of the French chairmanship of the COP21. Mrs Segolene Royal wrote to all her European counterparts as well as the European Commissioner in charge of climate change in order to speed up the process. France was the first European country, member of the G20 and G8, to ratify the Paris Agreement, on the 15th of June.
At the steering committee of the COP21, chaired by Ms. Segolene Royal, there was only one topic on the agenda: to speed up the implementation of the Paris Agreement. To do so, the following decisions were taken:
- The ratification by the European Union of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016 can push its entry into force. The COP21 President and the President of the French Republic thus wrote to the European Commission and Heads of Government, inviting the Environment Council on 20 June to define a suitable timetable. The COP21 President wanted the National Assembly and the Senate to work on their European counterparts to this end.
- To demonstrate the cooperation and mutual help which were part of the “spirit of Paris” at the UN negotiating session in Bonn. The aim of the French presidency was to ensure well-balanced negotiations in order to make the Paris Agreement operational.
- As regards finance, maintain pressure on financial institutions to increase their climate financing and on the Green Climate Fund to select new projects at its next board meeting. In addition, the COP21 President stated that she intends to mobilize the 250 largest global investors which have not yet done so to include the concept of “climate risk” in their investment criteria.
- To encourage the adoption of a formal decision at COP22 on governing the Action Agenda so as to include non-State actors while speeding up the implementation of work led by coalitions, including the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, the International Solar Alliance, the protection of oceans and the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.
- To encourage both the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization to set ambitious targets for the control and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a strict monitoring mechanism for vessels and the swift adoption of a global mechanism to offset air transport emissions.
Additionally, the French government is supporting various international initiatives in the field of the fight against global warming : as the General Assembly of the International Network of Basin Organizations took place in Mexico, the COP21 President supported the call for action on the Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation.
The Agence Française de Développement, being the central French public operator for France’s cooperation system that supports the development of countries in the South and the French overseas territories, is a key actor of the support to the fight against climate change worldwide. As you may know, during the meeting of Ministers of Finance and heads of multilateral development banks held in Lima on 9 October 2015, France, through the French President, announced that French climate finance would increase from EUR 2,865bn a year today to EUR 5bn by 2020. To achieve this objective, Agence Française de Développement’s annual loan allocation capacity will increase by EUR 4bn by 2020. The increase in aid will not only be in the form of loans, but also through an increase in grants. Their level will rise in the coming years to EUR 370m more by 2020 than today.
A lot of the work will already be achieved this year, as the Government has decided to submit two amendments to the draft finance law for 2016 in order to provide an additional EUR 150m of budget resources for development, including EUR 100m for the climate, mainly for adaptation to climate change impacts by poor countries.
Which sectors open the biggest number of green jobs in France? And what is the potential for green jobs if France achieves its 2030 goals?
One of France’s main mitigation measures is to reinforce the energy efficiency in private and public building sector. Projections show that 75.000 jobs will be created. The development of hydro energy solutions, maritime ones, offers a potential of 10.000 job creations. More than 100.000 jobs could be created in France till 2030.
The sectors where the job creation would be the most important would be renewable energy (316.000) and energy efficiency (564.000 job creations in this estimation). On the other hand, jobs in particular sectors would disappear such as the traditional energy sectors (138.000 jobs lost) and cars (107.000 jobs lost).
How is the education system in France reacting on these changes? Were there some adjustments in the study curriculums?
French education system has witnessed the creation of a number of Masters in the field of sustainable development, as management of “green” projects is a trend that started more than 10 years ago. Vocational training has been improved, sometimes at a more technical level. The French Government is improving the general offer and organization of VET as National employment Agency adapts its processes and offers in this field.
Nonetheless, for the students, interesting options already exist. For instance, the “Grenoble School of management” has developed a Master in Energy Marketing and Management: it is a part-time work/study program from October to May + 6 months of full-time work from June to December. It is dedicated to career marketing and commercial functions, project management, strategy and consulting.
The Master degree in Fluid Mechanics and Energetics, from the University of Grenoble, that is to say, an advanced academic program in fluid mechanics and applications, includes in its curricula the topic of sustainable energy (wind or solar energy) and development involving hydraulics (rivers, off-shore and marine science).
ParisTech, a network of some of France’s most prestigious schools, is now offering a Master in Renewable Energy Science & Technology, aiming at increasing the percentage of renewable energies in the global energy mix.
On the civic education side, in February 2015, the minister of Education, Ms. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and the minister of Environment, energy and transport, Ms. Segolene Royal, launched together an ambitious program to include education on energy transition, sustainable development and climate change. The 2016 academic year will see the implementation of one of the more symbolic measure, which includes in every child curricula the education of sustainable development from primary to high school.
What are your recommendation for the Western Balkan countries and especially Macedonia on the climate and energy goals? What should be the priority?
The Western Balkans will be severely impacted by the effects of climate change and global warming. When it comes to Macedonia, a country with astonishing endemic species, natural heritage and huge biodiversity, one may say there is some emergency to act. The main sector responsible of the increase of CO2 emissions is the energy sector, then construction and buildings. Acting strongly in the field of energy efficiency of public and private buildings, with the support of international donors, European Union would help to reduce CO2 emissions, waste of energy and at medium to long term, could help the citizens to reduce their electric invoices.
The expected new strategy on energy for 2035 should include commitments to strongly increase the rate of renewables in the energy mix of the Republic of Macedonia.
Therefore, considering the Macedonian commitments at COP21, the implementation of the adaptation and mitigation measures should start without delay. This is an opportunity for the economic development of the country, because, as Go Green mentioned it in the past in a survey, fighting against climate change is an option for job creation especially among the youth target group. Additionally, with such a biodiversity, landscapes considered as international national heritage, there is room for the development of opportunities in the field of sustainable tourism.