France moves away from nuclear with clean energy law

Host country for critical UN climate summit is targeting 40% emissions cut by 2030 in energy bill passed on Wednesday

Most of France's nuclear fleet was built in the 1970s and is due for renewal (Flickr/~ Pil ~)

Most of France’s nuclear fleet was built in the 1970s and is due for renewal (Flickr/~ Pil ~)

By Jean-Baptiste Bonaventure

France is set to ramp up renewable energy and shift away from nuclear under an energy law adopted on Wednesday.

The country is also hiking a carbon tax to €100 a tonne by 2030 in a suite of measures to cut emissions 40% on 1990 levels.

Environment minister Segolene Royal said she wanted France, which hosts a critical UN climate summit this December, to be a “nation of environmental excellence”.

Passed after more than 150 hours of parliamentary debate, the law’s most controversial element is to reduce reliance on atomic energy.

It will cut nuclear’s share of the power mix from around 75% today to half by 2025, although precisely which plants will be closed and when remains to be decided.

Overall energy consumption is to be slashed 20% from 2012 levels by 2030, with renewables increasing to 32% of the mix.

A carbon tax on natural gas, heating oil, coal and transport fuels, applying to emissions not covered by the EU carbon market, will be increased sharply. From €14.50/t today, it climbs to €56 in 2022 and €100 by 2030.

“It is very ambitious,” Henri Waisman, emissions expert at Parisian think tank IDDRI told RTCC, “for emissions reductions but also bringing a real change in the energy systems in France.”

The Coalition for Energy Savings, a Europe-wide network of businesses, trade unions, NGOs and local authorities, also welcomed the law.

It goes “far beyond the lowest common denominator” in Europe, said the group’s head Stefan Scheuer, “in line with the cost-effective potentials”.

The EU bloc of 28 countries has adopted a target to cut emissions “at least” 40% by 2030, through a carbon market, renewables and energy efficiency policies.

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