The success of the Paris Agreement in rallying the world to take collective action against climate change and global warming has highlighted the stark challenge that lays ahead: Humankind must achieve a net zero carbon emissions target by the second half of this century.
If the goal of keeping warming within 2°C is to be met, all countries will have to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 30% more than the amount that was pledged in the run-up to the Paris conference in December 2015. This makes the action taken over the next decade absolutely critical in reaching this goal.
The fact that affordable fossil fuels are likely to remain readily available is certain to complicate this collective effort even further.
Together with the US and China, the European Union will have to go beyond its goal of reducing its emissions by 40% of its 1990 levels by 2030. This means it will have to both lower its consumption of fossil fuels – coal in particular – and create a credible carbon price signal for its economy by establishing a floor price in its Emissions Trading System (ETS) and possibly a European carbon tax.
France, for its part, must concentrate on reducing emissions from transport, residential and commercial housing and agriculture as its emissions from electricity generation are already very low. Having brought down its emissions by close to 19% since 1990, France is clearly committed to taking climate action. The economic crisis notwithstanding, this reduction comes mostly from the manufacturing sector and energy production itself. However, if the country is to reach carbon neutrality by the second half of the 21st century without hampering its competitiveness, it will have to rethink the scope and rate of action to be taken.