France falls short of its own emission targets: climate council

France is falling way short of its self-set climate targets as carbon emissions from transport and buildings are not dropping as planned and the government will have to triple its efforts to get back on track, the country’s new climate council said.

In its first report, France’s newly appointed independent climate advisory council, the Haut Conseil pour le Climat (HCC) said that in 2015-18, emissions fell by just 1.1 per cent, just over half the 1.9 per cent that was prescribed.

France was the driver behind the 2016 Paris Agreement to limit global warming and the French parliament is now debating an energy bill that targets net zero emissions by 2050.

But environmentalists say that apart from setting bold but faraway targets, Macron is doing little to change consumers’ behaviour and is leaving hard decisions to his successors.

The HCC report said France’s failure to reach climate targets is mainly due to transport emissions, which have not decreased in the last 10 years, and emissions from buildings, which have decreased three times more slowly than anticipated.

Efforts to curb transport emissions through taxation have repeatedly run up against protests in recent years.

Late in 2018, Macron dropped a planned increase in car fuel taxes after “yellow vest” protests against it morphed into a sometimes violent movement challenging his wider reform plans.

Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande also had to back off from a plan to reduce road transport after angry truckers destroyed gantries meant to charge fees on trucks.