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France: Law on Energy and Climate Adopted

(Dec. 4, 2019) On November 8, 2019, the French president signed Loi n° 2019-1147 du 8 novembre 2019 relative à l’énergie et au climat (Law No. 2019-1147 of 8 November 2019 Regarding Energy and Climate). This law was adopted as part of France’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement to address climate change, and seeks to reduce France’s carbon emissions. The law amends the French Energy Code to include the goal of attaining carbon neutrality by 2050, through a more than sixfold reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this objective, the law aims to reduce French consumption of fossil fuels to 60% of 2012 levels by 2030. Beyond these aspirational provisions, the Law on Energy and Climate contains several concrete measures to lower greenhouse emissions in France, including measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce emissions related to electricity generation.

Measures to Improve Energy Efficiency of Buildings

The new law provides several measures against thermally inefficient homes—often informally referred to as “thermal sieves” (passoires thermiques). Among those measures are the following:

  • Beginning in 2022, owners of thermally inefficient homes will be required to have their property undergo an energy audit when they put it up for rent or sale.
  • Also beginning in 2022, all property owners will be required to inform potential buyers or renters of a property’s expected energy costs.
  • Beginning in 2021, owners of thermally inefficient properties will be prohibited from raising rent on their property until they have renovated it to make it more energy efficient.
  • Beginning in 2023, homes that have “extremely high energy costs” may be labelled as “indecent housing,” following which their owners will not be able to rent them out until they have made them more energy efficient. (What constitutes “extremely high energy costs” will be defined in a forthcoming regulation.)
  • Additional measures, to come into force in 2028, include obligations for property owners to meet certain energy standards and further disclosure requirements.

Measures to Reduce Emissions Related to Electricity Generation

Additionally, this new law will limit greenhouse gas emissions related to the production of electricity. The most highly polluting power plants will see their operating times limited, and all coal power plants will cease operating by 2022. To ease this transition, a previous goal to reduce reliance on nuclear energy to 50% of electricity generation by 2025 is now postponed to 2035. Furthermore, the Law on Energy and Climate provides new measures to increase the use of renewal energies. For example, the government will increase construction of offshore wind turbines, including those using the new technology of floating turbines. In addition, new warehouses and supermarkets, as well as new parking lot shade structures, will be required to have solar panels on at least 30% of their surface.

Other Measures

The law also reinforces the fight against fraud related to energy saving certificates, mainly by increasing inspections and facilitating exchanges of information between relevant government agencies.

Additionally, the new law creates a High Council for the Climate (Haut Conseil pour le Climat), modeled after the British Committee on Climate Change, which will independently evaluate the government’s climate strategy and assess the effectiveness of French policies in the matter.