Ecological transition: transport, building and industry will concentrate two thirds of the efforts

The trajectory envisaged by Matignon to decarbonize France involves all sectors of the economy – but some more than others. The plan presented this Monday by Elisabeth Borne to the National Council for Energy Transition provides that transport, industry and construction will concentrate two thirds of the effort necessary to reduce France’s emissions by 138 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030 – according to the trajectory that will allow our country to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.

Overview of the levers envisaged at this stage:

Transport: rage on the private car

Concentrating on its own 32% of France’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions (129 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent), the transport sector is also the one that will provide the bulk of the decarbonization effort by 2030: 37 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MT), ie 27% of the total effort, must have disappeared by this date.

For this, it will be necessary to significantly reduce the use of the private car, and in particular thermal cars. It is the transfer to the electric car that will have the greatest impact (-11 million tonnes, calculated Matignon). The proportion of battery-powered vehicles will have to be increased to 15% of the fleet by 2030. Quite a leap: it is 1.2% today.

This will require having sold 5.7 million by 2030, calculated Matignon – for comparison, it sold 203,000 in 2022, and 126,500 more including plug-in hybrids. Sales incentives (bonuses, conversion bonuses, leasing at 100 euros per month ) will be welcome, as well as measures promoting the greening of corporate fleets, which account for half of new vehicle purchases.

Many other levers are envisaged, with significant impacts. Sobriety linked to telework (-3 MT), modal shift to train or bicycle (-5 MT), carpooling (-3 MT), but also the use of rail or river freight for goods (-4 MT) , For example.

· Agriculture :

We know less, but the agricultural sector is today the second most emitting sector of greenhouse gases in France. Last year, it represented 20% of national emissions, with 81 MT, ie as much as the previous year, and more than industry or buildings (tertiary and residential combined). The pressure envisaged is however less significant than in other sectors, representing only 13 MT, or 9% of the 138 MT to be found by 2030.

The efforts to be made are no less important: they concern crops where it will be necessary to use more plant cover, or to replace part of the mineral fertilizers with organic fertilisers. They also concern animal husbandry (which accounts for nearly half of the sector’s emissions). There, the government is betting in particular on the continuation of the downward trend in livestock. It also intends to tackle the decarbonization of agricultural machinery.

At Matignon, we also insist on taking into account the fact that agricultural soils are one of the main sources for improving carbon sinks (which absorb and store CO2). Finally, we must avoid imported emissions, such as soya, which can be produced more in France.

Carbon sinks: the forest puzzle

The government is also counting on an increase in carbon sinks (a role played by forests, woods and agricultural land) in France by 2030, without setting a quantified target. Because global warming, and drought in particular, affects this storage capacity and carbon sinks are down compared to 1990. There is therefore uncertainty about their recovery.

It is one of the most difficult subjects, we recognize in Matignon who works on it. This involves both preserving forests and fighting against the artificialization of soils.

Industry: focus on the large sites with the highest emissions

This is one of the areas where the government has already planned to open the purse strings: Emmanuel Macron promised last November to allocate 5 billion euros more than the 5 billion already promised, to help 50 most emitting industrial sites to begin their transition – provided that they reduce their emissions by half in 2030 (compared to 2015).

The stakes are high: industry accounted for 18% of French emissions in 2022 (72 MT) – half of which for the 50 largest sites, in the steel industry, chemicals, cement or the food industry. According to Matignon, these 50 sites alone could eliminate 24 MT by 2030, in particular by investing in breakthrough technologies such as the use of carbon-free hydrogen in the steel industry, or that of inert anodes in aluminum. The sequestration and storage of CO2 could also eliminate 5 MT on this horizon, according to Matignon, and the other industrial sites 11 MT.

Building: renovation on all floors

Better insulate thermal sieves, but also ban oil-fired boilers and reduce gas heating: while building emissions (residential and tertiary) represented 64 MT in 2022, Matignon hopes to reduce them by 34 MT by 2030 , thanks in particular to these three levers, which could save around 8 MT each, in residential housing alone. Sobriety efforts could also remove 4 MT.

It remains to be seen how Matignon intends to encourage such renovations. Although he helped fund the renovation of 670,000 housing units last year, the current tool, MaPrimeRenov, was mainly used for partial works – with a limited effect on emissions.

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