Emmanuelle Ducros 08:57, November 23, 2023

Every morning after the 8:30 a.m. news, Emmanuelle Ducros unveils her "Journey into Absurdity" to listeners, from Monday to Thursday.

Do you have to pay your fines? France, in any case, has decided that it will not pay the one that Europe wants to inflict on it for not having met its targets on renewable energies in 2020.

€500 million. Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher wrote to the European Commissioner for Energy in October to tell him that France did not intend to pay such a sum. This was revealed yesterday by the newspaper Le Monde.

Why is France being punished?

In 2009, when Nicolas Sarkozy was president, France committed to reaching the threshold of 23% renewable energies (wind, solar, hydro...) in its gross final energy consumption by 2020. That meant more than doubling the share in the mix. A truly ambitious and binding goal. With only 19.1% energy in the mix, the target was missed.

What are the arguments that France puts forward for not having to pay?

They're credible, and really, they get along. France argues that it has not abandoned the objective. It has accelerated the pace a lot between 2012 and 2022, it is going faster than the European average. Renewables must always replace the fossil fuels that remain in our electricity generation mix

-Because France has one of the most carbon-free electricity production in Europe. It is 96% so, thanks to the nuclear fleet and nuclear power. However, decarbonisation is the final goal of all this transformation that Europe wants. It doesn't make sense to focus on the share of renewables in the mix. A well-known example is Germany. Renewables account for 52% of electricity production, but gas and coal are burned to make up the difference. The carbon footprint of German electricity is eight to ten times higher than ours, depending on the day.

"The result is a paradoxical situation where France is singled out" unfairly, writes Agnès Pannier-Runacher. It's like punishing a good student who solves the most complicated equation by not using the right ink color.

There was an alternative to the fine.

Yes: France could achieve it artificially, as Belgium or the Netherlands have done, by buying a posteriori "statistical volumes" of renewable energies from states that have exceeded their own target. A hypocritical writing game that doesn't change anything about the actual production in Europe. The government is willing to spend, but not on fines or make-up, only on renewable energy projects

The mood is changing in Europe.

Yes, Agnès Pannier-Runacher is right to fight. She has already won a major tug-of-war. The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to include nuclear power as a green technology. Easier financing, production included in the same way as renewables in net-zero emission technologies. Indeed, the European fine seems to have come completely out of time.