France outside the box. According to the report from the Climate-Energy Observatory, published Thursday September 14, France has not managed to meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions commitments for the year 2022. To be more precise, the country has failed to meet its targets for net GHG emissions. This situation is due, according to the observatory, to the fact that forests and soils have absorbed a lower quantity of CO2 than expected.
“France is not meeting its net emissions objective for the year 2022. 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 Energy Management Agency (Ademe). The country's gross emissions, a figure already known, reached 403.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) last year, a figure that has been falling. On this point, France is well on target with its objectives.
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. According to observatory data, the excess is of the order of 20 MtCO2e. Indeed, France had a target of 367 MtCO2e for the year 2022. In total, net emissions reached 386.9 MtCO2e.
If France respects its overall objective in gross emissions (the sum of all emissions from the different emitting sectors, without absorption by forests and soils), with a margin of 4.2 MtCO2e, in terms of net emissions it does so. exceeds by almost 20 MtCO2e
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. Sequestration was only 16.9 MtCO2e out of the 41 MtCO2e set in the national low-carbon strategy (SNBC), France's official roadmap. A situation which has its explanations quite simply. “The decline in carbon sinks in recent years, particularly in forests, is linked to droughts (reinforced by climate change), fires and diseases,” underlines the observatory, which notes in passing that the data from this sector are difficult to assess.
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,” highlighted 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".