Where is France in its climate actions? According to the latest version of the Climate-Energy Observatory published Thursday, September 14, the country did not meet its targets for net greenhouse gas emissions in 2022, in particular because forests and soils absorbed less carbon dioxide (CO₂) than expected.
“The main gap comes from the lower absorption of emissions by forests and soils,” concludes this observatory, developed by the Climate Action Network (RAC) with other partners, such as the Environment and Management Agency. energy (Ademe). The country's gross emissions reached 403.8 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (MtCO2e) last year, a declining figure, already known and on target.
However, the figure for net emissions (those of the country from which the CO₂ absorbed by the soil and forests has been subtracted) has slipped. “France exceeds its carbon budget by almost 16 MtCO2e, with 386.9 MtCO2e emitted, for a target of 367 MtCO2e,” insists the observatory.
A “critical” situation
The gap is largely explained by the absorption of CO₂ by the forest and the soil, two natural carbon sinks, which did not at all live up to what was expected. Absorption was only 16.9 MtCO2e out of the 41 MtCO2e set in the national low carbon strategy (SNBC), France's official roadmap.
“The decline in carbon sinks in recent years, particularly in forests, is linked to droughts (reinforced by climate change) to fires and diseases,” recalls the observatory, which notes in passing that data from this sector are difficult to evaluate. The problem of the weakness of French carbon sinks is already well identified.
“Forest carbon sinks have declined sharply over the recent period, both because of the increase in forest mortality, greater than expected, and the reduction in tree growth,” explained in June the High Council for Climate (HCC).
In its annual report, it made several proposals, such as “recalibrating” absorption targets for carbon sinks or strengthening “the adaptation of metropolitan forests to climate change”.
On the energy side, the observatory's report published Thursday also considers that the situation in France is "critical", with "a delay in meeting the objectives of reducing energy consumption and developing renewable energies".