France Takes One Step Forward and One Step Back

The Fossil of the day goes to France for postponing its target to drop share of nuclear energy in its power mix. France therefore sends a bad signal on its ability to meet its already agreed energy transition targets at home and shift from now towards a 100% renewable future.

France, you’ve been doing good so far on the international stage! You helped shape the Paris Agreement a great deal at COP21, and since then you’ve been working towards achieving ambitious outcomes in UNFCCC conferences. Congratulations on this, keep up the good work! But guess what, strong ambition in international meetings is not enough.  “Making our Planet Great Again” also requires coherence in national policies, and backsliding from agreed-on commitments cannot happen in a day if you want to remain the gatekeeper of the Paris agreement.

Yesterday, your government announced that you would not honor your 2025 nuclear phase down target of 50% in the electricity mix from current 75%, delaying your ambition from 5 to 10 years. This target was part of a law for energy transition, passed ahead of COP21 and after three years of inclusive dialogue with French civil society. Your newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron made the promise to respect and implement the energy transition as such.

But instead of running the full implementation by increasing energy efficiency measures and accelerating the deployment of renewables – where, by the way, you’re going to miss your 2020 target – your national debate will now focus on WHEN to phase down nuclear. In fact, you should be focusing on HOW to speed up the transition NOW.

At a time of urgency, your decision sends a bad signal at European and global levels: it suggests that a plan legally passed for energy transition, which aims to diversify energy sources towards more renewables, can be changed from a day to another without any dialogue. It also sends the wrong signal that countries mainly relying on a single energy power source may postpone their transition (as agreed before 2020 and by 2030) to more diversified sources, instead of doing it now.  

Next week, your President is to speak at the UNFCCC floor: don’t miss out this opportunity to show true leadership through global ambition AND bold national policies! We count on you!


About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 1100 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 120 working to promote government and individual action to limit human induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. 

About the Fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (, members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations or in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

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