France is currently struggling to lower its greenhouse gas emissions because of greater use of fossil fuels to compensate for the difficulties of the nuclear fleet, but also of transport.

Over the first nine months of the year, these emissions responsible for global warming have almost stagnated (-0.3%) compared to the same period of 2021, according to provisional data from Citepa, the body mandated to carry out the French inventory. shows.

A trend far from the decline necessary for the country to remain in the nails of its commitments.

“These figures inevitably worry us but we expected it, there is no miracle”, reacts Jérémie Suissa, general delegate of the NGO Notre affair à tous, which had the State condemned for climate inaction the last year.

“We have not done what was necessary to reduce emissions at all,” he believes, regretting the absence of an ambitious policy in terms of public transport or renewable energies.

In detail, emissions have notably increased by 12% over the nine months in energy production, according to Citepa.

"This is explained in particular by the shutdown of many nuclear reactors in 2022 which has led to the use of thermal power plants", he notes.

Gas consumption on the rise

France has indeed been confronted with the unavailability of part of its nuclear fleet due in particular to problems of micro-cracks.

To compensate for this lack, the country has never consumed so much gas for its electricity production as this year.

Due to the energy crisis, also caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government has also given up on closing the coal-fired power station in Saint-Avold (Moselle) this winter.

The Citepa also points to a 4% increase in transport emissions, with a jagged evolution depending on the month.

"We are going back to the mode of operation before the Covid crisis in the transport sector, which continues to be on the rise and for the moment we do not see any real structural change", remarks Michel Colombier, member of the High Council for the climate (HCC).

These trends are clearly out of step with the decrease necessary for France to meet its objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. It has committed to reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030, an ambition which must be strengthened to take account of new European objectives (-55%).

According to the HCC, the country should double the rate of decline in its emissions to around -4.7% per year over the period 2022-2030.

" It's urgent "

Michel Colombier, however, calls for sorting out the economic data - with the corrosion problems of nuclear reactors - and the underlying trends.

“We cannot draw conclusions from this stagnation about our ability to achieve the objectives,” he says.

However, he points to major challenges in the fields of transport and energy.

In the latter, there is "urgency that we develop renewables because we have a nuclear fleet which is fragile, on which we are hyper dependent" and which could still reserve bad "surprises", remarks. -he.

Back to court?

Emissions are all the more scrutinized as justice had in 2021 given until December 31 to the State to act more decisively on the climate plan, in a dispute brought before the administrative court of Paris by NGOs united under the "Deal of the Century" banner.

The NGOs now declare themselves ready to go back to court in 2023 to ask for financial penalties again, believing that the State has not acted enough.

"The next step is to ask for penalties for a real application by the State of the judge's decision", underlines Jérémie Suissa.

"The government is fully committed to meeting its climate commitments", assures the Ministry of Energy Transition, highlighting a series of measures in favor of energy renovation, sobriety, cycling, carpooling, or even the next ban on the rental of thermal colanders…

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