France hails EU’s climate plan

Climate – Fit for 55: a new cycle of European climate policies – Press release issued by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition

Paris, 15 July 2021

France welcomes the European Commission’s publication of proposed concrete action to speed up the fight against climate change, achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and meet the target of reducing greenhouse gases by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Dubbed “Fit for 55”, this package of 12 legislative proposals confirms the European Commission’s intention, shared by France, of putting Europe at the vanguard of the climate battle.

This goal is a major challenge for the coming decade, after Europe reduced its emissions by 23% between 1990 and 2018, becoming the world’s only continent to prove that it is possible to reduce emissions while experiencing robust economic growth. Indeed, over the same period, emissions increased globally by 67%.

France pays tribute to the work done by the Commission, which picks up on a number of French priorities such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. These proposals will now be the focus of in-depth negotiations for several months at the European Parliament and within the Council of Ministers, which represents the Member States.

The French presidency of the European Union, which begins in January 2022, will enable progress on these negotiations, following initial discussions under the Slovenian presidency.

A proactive European approach essential for the climate battle

France is one of the first European States to have supported the adoption of carbon neutrality in 2018, just when Donald Trump was trying to destabilize the Paris Agreement. France initiated the movement in Sibiu on 8 May 2019, together with seven other Member States that were calling on the European Union to set itself a carbon neutrality goal for 2050. This goal was subsequently endorsed by the European Council, which then set out, in December 2020, a collective target for the European Union of a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the EU of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, a target the French President championed very early on.

Climate action at European level is crucial for at least three reasons:

- The EU has an ability to take the rest of the world along with it. If it sets an example, the EU is capable of exerting influence beyond its borders, in particular in the run-up to COP26.

- Only on this scale will mechanisms like the European carbon market (ETS) work and innovations like the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism make sense.

- Finally, it enables us to guarantee a smooth coordination of the climate effort and fairness between Member States and between Europeans.

Annex – the content of the Fit for 55 package

A comprehensive transformation of Europe’s economies

The legislative proposals in the package proposed today by the European Commission aim to put into practice the emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 which is necessary in order to comply with the trajectory set by the Paris Agreement.

This new, ambitious package of 12 legislative proposals affects every sector of the economy: industry, transport, construction, agriculture and forestry. This comprehensive approach reflects the one France adopted with the France Relance [recovery] plan and the Climate and Resilience bill: it allows for a credible action plan focused on the results, effectiveness and social justice of climate policies.

The proposals include:

- Systems for strengthening and extending the carbon market to sectors not hitherto affected, like the maritime sector. The Commission also envisages ending free quotas in the aviation sector, which France supported because it was one of the proposals of the Citizens’ Convention for Climate.

- Fairness measures for our manufacturers in the face of competitors from other regions of the world that are not subject to the same climate rules, through the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

- Systems for speeding up and decarbonizing sectors like the automotive and construction industries, through increasingly stringent climate standards, following the example of France, which in 2017 set a target of ending the sale of internal-combustion-engine cars by 2040.

- Developing our carbon sinks, i.e. our ability to preserve and protect our forests and change our agricultural practices in order to absorb more CO2 and achieve carbon neutrality.

The Government particularly welcomes the Commission’s proposal to introduce a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which is a major cultural shift in Europe and a real step forward in diplomacy. This tool is essential for ensuring that our policies to combat climate change are effective by making it possible to prevent carbon leakage, i.e. the relocation of activities to countries which do not share the same ambitions as us to limit emissions, in a framework compatible with the rules of international trade and working transparently with the EU’s partner countries.

Many Member States and a clear majority of MEPs came out in support of it.

Furthermore, having been one of the first countries in the world to set a date for ending the sale of internal-combustion-engine vehicles by 2040, France shares the goal of speeding up the trajectory. This is a further step forward in decarbonizing the transport sector, but also a major technological, economic and social challenge. It seems necessary to maintain an open technological approach which does not exclude high-performance, rechargeable hybrid vehicles, and to provide for support to the automotive sector, particularly subcontractors and employees.

The European Commission has proposed extending the carbon market to include the transport and construction sectors. France has reservations about the relevance of the scheme and its consequences for households and small businesses. It will continue discussions to ensure that social justice and solidarity remain at the heart of climate action.

The need to put these proposals effectively into practice over the coming months

This is a very detailed package of proposals. The texts presented amount to several thousand pages, with in-depth impact studies.

France will analyse the Commission’s proposals carefully to make sure they propose a transition towards carbon neutrality which is credible, effective for the climate, realistic for our businesses and fair for our citizens.

The Slovenian presidency has arranged for Member States to be able to examine these texts swiftly. France is conscious of the responsibility incumbent on it in the first half of 2022 and will be very keen to press forward with this symbolic issue during its European Union Council presidency./.

Published on 21/07/2021

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