December - France: Leading the way to COP21

Paris, France, December 2015 - As the host of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), France is demonstrating leadership and commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. COP 21 aims to reach a global agreement on climate change between the 195 countries expected for negotiations. France is setting an example by pursuing sustainability and climate change mitigation efforts across sectors.

France and India will launch a global solar alliance at COP 21 that brings together 100 countries with high-energy production potential to increase availability of solar power worldwide. Recently passed French legislation, the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, introduced binding energy targets on transport, housing and renewable energy. The law contains a clean transport programme that incentivizes purchase of low-emission vehicles and requires Government procurement practices to prioritize electric vehicles. The bill expects to halve French energy consumption by 2050 and reduce reliance on nuclear power, signifying strong political commitment to mitigating climate change. 

France has emerged as a green finance leader and has successfully mobilized capital for sustainable growth according to a report by UNEP and the Institute for Climate Economics titled “France’s Financial (Eco)system: improving the integration of sustainability factors”. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "France is part of a growing catalogue of examples around the world where sustainability is being factored into private and public financial decision-making.”

France is demonstrating that environmental protection measures and growth can go hand-in-hand. 75,000 new jobs will be created to retro-fit buildings with energy efficiency measures, reducing the energy demand of the housing stock, which currently consumes about half of the country’s total energy. Environmental legislation last spring decreed rooftops of new buildings built in commercial zones must be covered either in plants or in solar panels. France has a legislative framework for circular economy, which espouses similar principles to green economy, and puts forth a new economic paradigm for sustainable, low-carbon and green growth.

Paris has taken France’s commitments even further: Mayor Anne Hidalgo has pledged to cut overall carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, which would bring Paris ahead of France and EU targets. Sustainable mobility programmes, including the Vélib’ bike hire programme and electronic vehicle sharing programmes Autolib’ and Utilib’, increase zero-carbon transportation. Initiatives like “Paris Respire” close sections of the city to car traffic on Sundays, reducing emissions and air pollution levels. Paris, a densely populated city with little green space, has found an innovative way to increase greenery by installing green walls or “vegetalised” surface area. These green walls improve air quality, retain rainwater, and help insulate buildings.

Faced with the challenge of climate change, France and other nations on the path towards a green economy are demonstrating leadership by reducing greenhouse gas emissions without compromising growth and development.