France more than achieved its carbon emissions reduction goals for 2019, President Emmanuel Macron has said, just days after a court found the state guilty of not respecting its own climate targets. The government is to present its new climate bill before parliament on Wednesday.
"France reduced its greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 by 1.7 percent. It is beyond our objective!" Macron announced triumphantly on Twitter on Sunday.
Earlier, Environment Minister Barbara Pompili told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the reduction had allowed France to exceed its 1.5 percent target.
"Good news! In 2019, France surpassed its objectives in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.7 percent. Our policies are bearing fruit," Pompili said in a tweet.
In June 2020, the national emissions inventory agency CITEPA estimated that France produced 437 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019, which represented a drop of only one percent from the previous year.
But the environment ministry said on Sunday that CITEPA has since revised its estimate to 441 million tonnes, a fall of 1.7 percent.
Jean-François Julliard, head of Greenpeace France was sceptical, calling Pompili's "good news" a communications exercise. "The reduction was also the result of the government having opted to increase the carbon budget in 2019, wasn't it?" he tweeted.
Under the 2015 Paris climate accord France committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. It also set itself the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
But campaigners like Greenpeace and Oxfam accuse it of failing to respect its own roadmap on reducing emissions.
On Thursday, a Paris court found evidence of "negligence" by the state in its fight against climate change and said it was "responsible...for some of the ecological damage seen".
The ruling on the case brought by four NGOs followed an online petition which gathered some 2.3 million signatures. It was the second of its kind in recent months.
In November, the country's top administrative court (Conseil d'etat) gave the government a three-month deadline to show it was working to meet its targets on global warming.
"We still have a long way to go but we are on track to respect our commitments. Our efforts are paying off," Pompili said in Sunday's interview.
She said measures such as giving homeowners grants to replace oil-fired boilers with cleaner wood-burning or gas alternatives were beginning to show results.
Climate bill reaches parliament
The upbeat talk comes just as the government presents its new environmental bill before parliament on Wednesday.
It's based on nine months of work by the Citizens' Climate Convention – a group of 150 randomly-chosen people tasked with figuring out France's green policies. Roughly half of the convention's measures to slash CO2 emissions have been incorporated into the draft law.
The bill has stoked controversy: some convention members have accused the government of watering down their proposals, while some MPs are unhappy over new laws being drafted outside parliament.
The bill is important for President Macron, who has come under intense pressure from climate activists to abide by his headline 2017 promise to "make our planet great again".