Macron begs EU more money as he scrambles to make France net zero

Sunak compares UK’s climate change record to other countries

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday, September 25, that France will completely phase out coal by January 1, 2027.

But in doing so, Macron stressed the importance of European investment in the ecological transition, stating that regulation alone will not suffice for a genuine European decarbonisation strategy.

The French government has been preparing its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 5 per cent annually, aiming to meet the European target of a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Macron urged the European Commission to increase investments in the climate transition to achieve these ambitious targets. France has allocated €40billion for climate action in 2024, an increase of €7billion from the previous year.

This budget will be presented in the Finance Bill to the Council of Ministers and subsequently debated in the French Parliament.

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He said: “Europe must invest more in the ecological transition. There can’t be a real European decarbonisation strategy if there’s only regulation and no investment.”

The President also outlined key measures, including the total phase-out of coal in France, emphasising this as a top national priority and a model for the world. France currently has two operational coal-fired power plants, with one briefly reopened in 2022 due to an energy crisis.

In addition to coal phase-out, Macron shifted focus away from banning gas-fired boilers and instead aims to encourage the installation of heat pumps, with the goal of producing one million heat pumps in France by 2027. The approach contrasts with some other European nations, including Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands, which have reconsidered gas boiler bans to avoid social unrest.

Macron also reaffirmed his commitment to electric vehicles, aiming to produce one million electric cars in France by 2027. He also plans to revitalise French mining resources to support this endeavour.

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The timetable for these measures aligns with the upcoming EU Energy Council meeting on October 17, which is crucial for the future of the EU electricity market design. France continues to advocate for the integration of existing nuclear assets within the market design framework, setting it apart from Germany and its allies.

In contrast to France’s ambitious climate goals, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, recently announced a significant shift in the government’s climate commitments. Sunak confirmed that the UK would extend the deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and delay the phase-out of gas boilers. This move has drawn criticism from the automotive and energy sectors.

Sunak, speaking at a Downing Street press conference, said that his decision was not driven by politics, although it coincided with the Conservative Party’s efforts to differentiate itself from the Labour Party. He stressed the commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 but did not provide specific details on new measures to meet this target.

The prime minister argued that delaying green pledges would save families money in the short term, but businesses and environmental experts expressed concerns about the long-term costs. Sunak positioned his approach as a middle ground between more stringent climate action and climate scepticism, stating that the UK was already a leader in taking action.

He stressed the need for transparency with the public to maintain their support and avoid a backlash that could jeopardise the broader mission of achieving net-zero emissions.

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