Decarbonization of industry in France

The National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC) adopted in March 2020 sets a target for industrial greenhouse gas emissions not exceeding 53 MtCO2eq in 2030 and 16 MtCO2eq in 2050, against 84 MtCO2eq in 2019. Achieving these objectives are based on several tools, including carbon pricing and public support for decarbonization.

While industry is the economic sector that has decarbonized the most since 1990, the continuation of the decarbonization rate observed between 2013 and 2019 would be insufficient to achieve the objectives currently assigned to it by SNBC. These targets will also have to be revised to comply with the strengthening of the greenhouse gas emission reduction target set at European level. In 2019, industry still accounts for nearly 20% of national greenhouse gas emissions, mainly driven by the chemicals, non-metallic minerals and metallurgy sectors.

Since 2000, the decline in greenhouse gas emissions from French industry has come exclusively from technical progress incorporated into investments aimed at neutralizing pollution and improving manufacturing processes (improving “carbon efficiency”), the added value of the industry having continued to grow tendentially over this period. Econometric modeling on individual company data between 2013 and 2019 shows that the probability of making decarbonisation investments increases with the size of the company, its productivity, its consumption of carbon-based energy (gas, petroleum products, coal) and its inclusion in the European carbon emissions trading system. Once these factors are taken into account, the companies that invest more in decarbonisation are not those belonging to the sectors that emit the most (chemicals, metallurgy, non-metallic minerals) which, beyond a high energy consumption, mobilize the fuels and industrial processes that generate the most greenhouse gases.