On Tuesday 20 July 2021 the National Assembly voted 233 to 35 in favour of the "Climate and Resilience" bill. But what are the steps that led to this project and what really makes this law?
What are the steps that led to the Climate and Resilience Law?
This bill is the most important ecological measure of this presidential quinquennium and the fruit of several years of work. In order to understand the events that influenced the drafting of this text, we propose to go back in time to review this chronology.
The Paris Agreements
4 November 2016
On 4 November 2016, the Paris climate agreements came into force. These agreements aim to keep global warming below 2°C and address the consequences of climate change. The agreement was signed by 196 parties who committed to updating their country's greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy every five years. France and all the countries of the European Union are among the signatories of this treaty.
The European Union initially aimed to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2030, but in 2020 it revised its ambitions upwards to aim for a reduction of at least 55% over the same period.
France has set itself a target of a 40% reduction by 2030.
The Paris agreements encourage signatories to take responsibility for combating global warming and oblige them to set targets for reducing carbon emissions, but do not determine the actions to be taken.
In order to design a national action plan, France called on citizens to reflect on this issue by organising the Citizens' Climate Convention.
The Citizens' Climate Convention (CCC)
October 2019 to June 2020
The Citizens' Climate Convention brought together 150 citizens over 6 weekends, from October 2019 to June 2020, to work on global warming. This work led to the drafting of 149 proposals that should make it possible to achieve the objective of reducing France's greenhouse gas emissions.
These proposals are organised into five main themes: consuming, producing and working, moving, housing and feeding ourselves. They were then studied by the government in order to propose a bill: the Climate and Resilience Act.
The Climate and Resilience Bill
12 February 2021
Nine months after the CCC proposals were tabled, a bill, called Climate and Resilience, was presented to the Council of Ministers. It is based on some of the proposals thought up at the convention, 46 to be exact. The bill aims to :
- Changing food and consumption patterns,
- Changing production and work patterns,
- Rethinking transport and travel,
- Act on housing and land use,
- Put in place sanctions to limit environmental damage,
The opinion of the High Council for the Climate (HCC)
23 February 2021
Following this bill, the High Council for the Climate expresses its opinion: for it, this text is not sufficient and should "better integrate the measures adopted into the broader approach of the decarbonisation strategy" (1).
This opinion sets off a fire in the whole of the French population, among citizens but also among associations and political parties, particularly environmentalists.
Demonstration for "a real climate law
28 March 2021
On Sunday 28 March 2021, some 110,000 demonstrators took to the streets of French cities to demand a "real climate law". A law that would be in line with the objectives set by the Paris agreements, in order to keep global warming below 2°C.
Adoption of the text by the Senate
28 June 2021
After two weeks of consideration, the Climate and Resilience Act was passed by the Senate, but not without modification. In general, the Senate rewrote the text of the law to make it less restrictive and to extend the deadlines in order to allow the various stakeholders to carry out the work necessary to comply with the new regulations.
However, the theme of transport and mobility was changed in favour of the climate, in particular by reducing the VAT on train tickets from 10 to 5.5%.
The text of the law must then be voted on again in the National Assembly, one month later, on 20 July 2021.
The Council of State condemns the State
1 July 2021
In January 2019, the town of Grande-Synthe appealed to the Council of State because it considered that it was particularly exposed to climate change and that the State was not doing enough to mitigate these risks. The Council of State took a landmark decision and ordered the State to pay the town the sum of 5,000 euros. This sanction, which is more symbolic than punitive, marks the beginning of "climate trials".
On 1 July, the Council of State asked the government to 'take all necessary measures to curb the curve of greenhouse gas emissions'. The Council of State has given the government nine months, until 31 March 2022, to put in place an action plan to achieve its objectives. As a reminder, France has set itself the target of reducing its emissions by 40% by 2030.
The vote in the National Assembly
20 July 2021
Despite all the actions taken by various actors to modify this law, the National Assembly approved this project, by 233 votes to 35, on 20 July. Composed of 69 articles, this text will, according to the Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, "bring ecology to the heart of the French model in its most fundamental aspects, schools, public services, justice, but also housing and urban planning, advertising and transport".
For many, this law is not ambitious enough given the scale of the work to be done to tackle global warming. But what will this new regulation mean for the French? Read the rest of this article to find out.
What are the main measures of the Climate and Resilience Law?
The text of the law is composed of 69 articles which are centred around the CCC's themes of consuming, producing and working, moving, housing and feeding oneself. This text is much less substantial than the CCC's proposals, which numbered 149.
Namely, the Climate and Resilience Law has been designed to be complementary to other projects such as the Recovery Plan, regulatory reforms...
Let's talk more about the articles and what they entail.
By 2030, supermarkets of more than 400 m2 will have to devote 20% of their surface to the sale of bulk products. The aim of this article is to reduce the amount of plastic packaging and to change the consumption habits of the French.
The construction of new shopping centres will no longer be possible on natural or agricultural land, under certain conditions. This will limit the artificialisation of land.
Theme: Producing and working
Employees now have the opportunity to express their views on the environmental strategy of their company. Ecology is becoming everyone's topic, even within companies.
An environmental label will be mandatory on the products and services we consume to inform us about the impact of this product on the environment and in particular on the climate. Industries will therefore be obliged to analyse the way they produce their goods and services.
Theme: Getting around
It is no longer possible to travel by air for domestic journeys if there is an alternative train journey of less than 2.5 hours. An exception is made for flights used mainly for connections to destinations further afield.
Priority carpooling lanes will be created to encourage car sharing.
Low emission zones will be compulsorily created in cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants. This will limit access to city centres to the most polluting vehicles, and Crit'Air 3 vehicles will be banned from circulation in 2025.
Poorly insulated housing will also be subject to regulation. Indeed, thermal flats, classified as G, will no longer be rentable from 2025 onwards, as will those classified as F from 2028 onwards.
To accompany this measure, a national network of renovators will be created to simplify and make more efficient the renovation of French buildings.
Theme: Feeding yourself
Vegetarian meals will be introduced in all school and university canteens. From 1 January 2023, schools offering several menus a day will be obliged to include a vegetarian option on their menu. Canteens with a single daily menu will have to offer one vegetarian meal per week.
These measures are just a selection of the Climate and Resilience Bill. There are also measures concerning education and awareness-raising of young people on environmental issues, zero-interest loans to encourage the purchase of cleaner vehicles, reforms concerning advertising and the installation of solar panels.
In general, this text represents a step forward for the environmental cause and for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, but it does not meet the current challenges. These measures will not be sufficient to achieve France's greenhouse gas reduction target of 40% by 2030, let alone to make a significant contribution to the EU's target of 55% reduction by 2030.
It is the duty of companies to do their part in the national, and global, reduction of carbon emissions. The best way to participate in this collective effort is to carry out a carbon assessment of your organisation and then to follow the evolution of your emissions after having established a detailed action plan.
A SaaS tool like the one proposed by Traace allows to centralize and organize efficiently the carbon part of its CSR strategy.
( 1 ) 'Recommendations' contained in the opinion on the climate and resilience bill produced by the High Council for the Climate