On 22 July France’s National Assembly passed a new Energy Law, one that has been three years in the making, that sets out to cut fossil fuel use and strongly increase renewable energy generation in the country. The law sets targets to reduce consumption of fossil fuels 30% by 2030 and get 32% of energy from renewable sources. Shifting to cleaner sources of power will contribute to the EU’s provisional target of a 40% drop in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels.
It is intended and expected that the long-delayed legislation will reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power, and raise carbon prices almost fourfold. Lawmakers passed legislation that included a last-minute amendment initially rejected by the government to increase the target price of carbon to €56 per ton in 2020 and €100 in 2030, according to information on the National Assembly website. The rate, currently €14.50 a ton, will increase to €22 in 2016 and will be integrated in a levy on fossil fuels. Business leaders including those of six European oil majors have come out in recent months in favour of a carbon-pricing mechanism as an incentive to move to cleaner energies and cut climate-changing emissions.
The new law fulfils a campaign promise three years ago by president Francois Hollande to cut France’s nuclear-energy reliance in favour of renewables. The law stipulates that nuclear reactors should provide half of all power output "by around" 2025, a huge reduction from the 75% currently produced by EdF’s 58 reactors. The law, which also caps nuclear capacity at today’s 63.2 GW, had been delayed by industry resistance and ministerial changes.
The new law is in part a response to the Fukushima disaster in 2011, which persuaded the French government to re-assess its reliance on nuclear power. The government has set aside €10 billion to fund a total of 64 specific policy measures in the bill, over the next three years. It hopes to create 100 000 jobs in green industries.