France, which hosts the all-important UN Climate Summit next year, has approved Energy legislation which should be ratified by 2015.
The UN has been strongly urging countries to make strong commitments in advance of the summit to ensure an international agreement.
The country already passed a carbon tax, which is now in effect.
Under the energy law, France will:
- meet the EU’s new target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 (from 1990 levels) and 80% by 2050;
- reduce fossil fuel consumption 30% by 2030
- reduce nuclear energy to 50% of electricity production by 2025
- raise the share of renewable energy to 32% of all energy consumption by 2030 – 40% of electricity, 38% of heat and 15% of fuel
- cut energy demand in half by 2050
These are strong targets. "With this law, France adopts the most advanced legislation in the European Union,", says Segolene Royal, Environment Minister.
The law provides financing mechanisms to make it happen, such as support for 500,000 energy upgrades a year. A EUR 1.5 billion fund is being created for 20 city "zero waste" projects.
Last year, France took the simple step of requiring commercial enterprises turn the "lights out" at night, saving the energy it takes to power 750,000 homes.
Some are concerned that even more financing will be required and others say the bill will be watered down as it moves through Parliament.
Scandinavian countries have declared the strongest of targets:
Denmark: cut emissions 40% by 2020 (from 1990 levels) and reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Norway: 68% renewables by 2020
Sweden: eliminate fossil fuels for electricity production by 2020 and gasoline cars by 2030.
Finland: cut emissions 80% by 2050 (from 1990 levels).
According to the IPCC, nations must step up to cutting emissions at least 50% by 2050 … or else. So far, too few countries have committed to this level of change.