Filed under: Sustainability in France | Tags: Carbon Tax, Grenelle d'Environnement, Public Transport, Sustainable Buildings
What are the key objectives of the‘Grenelle d’Environment‘ ? It contains key directions for new laws and subventions for the building construction, public transport, renewable energy, biodiversity and agriculture.The current version focusses on environmental issues and less on social aspects.
Setting the example. By new environmental purchase criteria the French state want to set the example. CO2 emission of cars can’t be above 130 CO2/km as of 2009, paper should be recycled or FSC approved as of 2010 (1).
Stimulating Low Energy Buildings. Half of France total energy use and a quarter of the countries greenhouse gas emissions are caused by buildings (2). The average French building energy consumption is very high (240 kWh/m2/year) compared to Northern European houses (around 100), due to poor isolation and energy loss. As great improvements are possible in this sector, the French governments has chosen it as its first priority for action. As of 2012, Borloo and Sarkozy demand that new buildings to be ‘BCS’ (‘Batiment Basse Consomption’). And as of 2020, they should be be ‘energy-positive’, calles BEPOS (Batiment a Energi Positive) . To achieve the BCS or better, the BEPOS standard, new insulation, better ventilation and renewable energy techniques are encouraged, such as photovoltaic roof panels. Remarkable is that the Grenelle presents no subventions for better a better insulation of current buildings where huge improvements can be made.
Solar roof panels to decrease energy use of new houses.
18,5 Billion Euro Investments in Public Transport. Transport is the second sector of priority, also counting for a . Government Sarkozy is injecting no less than 2,5 billion euro in urban transport (tramway, metro, bus) and 16 billion in new fast train railways between the main cities. Travel by car and by aeroplane to the contrary, are discouraged. For instance, aeroplane manufacturers are requested to develop new planes that use 50% less carburant by 2020 (by the way, in line with technical expectations ..).
Carbon Tax to Discourage Car Use. A highly political sensitive and mediatised measure is the ‘Taxe Carbone’, a new carbon tax for gas and petrol. The goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions by discouraging car use. Experts estimated a level for 2010 of 45 euro per tons CO2 equivalent to be sufficient to change behaviour (2). Meanwhile the level has been lowered by Sarkozy to 17 euro per ton CO2 equivalent (‘because of the difficult economic times’) which makes the tax still low compared to other European countries (3). Many people question if the low tax level (4 eurocents per liter petrol) will be now be sufficient to reduce car use. 3 out of 4 French people are against the Tax in september 2009 (4). People state that ‘they are already making sufficient efforts to reduce their energy consumption’ (enterprises however should improve theirs ! ).
Carbon Tax in European countries
The controversy around the Carbon Tax in France illustrates that the awareness on sustainable issues may be rising, if people asked to pay a price or change their behaviour they seem to be much less committed.
Sources : 1. www.legrenelle-environnement.fr 2. ‘Derogations et modulations sont les ennemis mortels de la taxe carbone, interview with economist Olivier Godard in Les Echos, 10/09/2009; 3. ‘Le projet de taxe carbone en 2 mots’ 02/08/09.; 4. ‘Les deux tiers des Français rejettent la taxe carbone’ Le Figaro, 03/09/09, following a poll of TNS Sofres/Logica