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Economy

France to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, Hollande

media resident Francois Hollande (2ndR) speaks with Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (2ndL), Ecology and Energy Minister Philippe Martin (L) at the environmental conference Reuters/Charles Platiau

France will reduce its use of fossil fuels by 30 per cent by 2030 and by half by 2050, President François Hollande said on Friday when he opened a two-day conference on the environment in Paris on Friday. Hollande is under pressure from his Green party allies to deliver on his promise to make France "the nation of environmental excellence" but faces resistance from business and the right.

"Fossil fuels still account for more than 70 per cent of our overall energy use," Hollande said. "Therefore I propose that we set a goal of reducing consumption of fossil
energy by 30 percent by 2030."

Savings of 20-50 billion euros on the country's energy bill by 2030, he claimed, but added, in reference to the 2050 target, "Let's not be dogmatic about this, if we are little bit off the mark, it won't be disastrous."

Several measures are planned to reach the targets, including:

  • Smart cars: Electrical recharging points will be encouraged in French towns and cities, a quarter of all new cars bought by state bodies would be electric or hybrid and al those bought for purely urban use;
  • VAT: Value-added tax on work to improve energy efficiency in housing will be cut from 10 per cent to five per cent in 2014;
  • Carbon tax: Hollande promised an "energy transition" law next year - it is expected to include a carbon tax of 7.0 euros per tonne of CO2 emitted in 2014, rising to 14.5 euros per tonne in 2015 and 22 euros in 2016, according to Le Monde newspaper.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Friday opposed a green tax, calling for efforts to localise production instead.

Parliamentary elections 2012

Faced with agitation against tax rises by the mainstream right and business leaders, ministers have already declared that the carbon tax will replace existing taxes, rather than being an addition to tax bills.

The Green party, EELV, two of whose members are ministers, have expressed disappointment on the government's action on the eonvironment so far but party national secretary Pascal Durand on Thursday denied it was issuing an "ultimatum" to the Socialists.

The meeting is the second environmental get-together organised by Hollande's government.

It is being attended by 14 ministers and other politicians, NGOs, employers and unions, although some campaign groups have been dropped from this year's guest list, leading two former environment ministers, Delphine Batho and Corine Lepage, to protest at their exclusion.

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