Working Toward Carbon Neutrality
Volume XX, Issue 25
The Climate and Resilience Law enacted in France by the Ministry of Ecological Transition in August 2021 is part of the French government’s national low-carbon strategy to support the “greening” of the country’s economic recovery. The plan is to enforce stricter standards on reducing energy consumption and promoting more sustainable energy usage on six main themes: consumption, production and work, travel, housing, food, and strengthening legal protection of the environment. The goal is to improve air quality in major cities, increase the renovation of housing with support for households, and combat the “concretization” of soils.
No one can disagree with the initiative to combat climate change and reduce our use of energy, but this means a real shift in the way we live our lives and a cost to becoming much more energy efficient. The law provides for a ban on energy-intensive housing (about 4.8 million homes), and increasing rent prices if energy renovation work is not carried out! In addition, from 2025 onward, renting of an under-rated home will be prohibited (G-rating), while F-rated housing will be permitted an additional three years. From 2034 onward, it will be prohibited to rent out even E-rated dwellings.
The “Diagnostic de Performance Energétique” (DPE), is a document provided by the seller’s diagnostician that provides an estimate for the property’s energy consumption. Depending on the result of the DPE, the property will be ranked from A (the most energy efficient) to G (the least energy efficient).
See more about the energy performance diagnosis (DPE) here.
From September 22 of this year, if the property you want to sell is ranked as low as F or G on the scale, you will also need to pay for an “audit énergétique,” which could easily cost as much as 800€. It’s more precise than the DPE and will help inform the buyers of future costs to bring the level up to at least B class. All of this requires being prepared with enough trained professionals to perform the work, which we are not confident to have.
This is just the beginning of taking out your wallet to comply with the new regulations. Don’t forget, the property must meet the requirements and that means renovating to improve its energy efficiency. Fortunately, there will be incentives offered by the government to make it easier and less expensive. In fact, you can get a zero interest loan available to first-time and low-income buyers seeking to invest in B2 or C zone properties (which excludes Paris), and not earning above a fixed amount (which varies according the number of people who will live in your future household). If you own a rental property that isn’t meeting the standards (if it uses more than 450 KWh/m2 per year), then be prepared to fix it or leave it vacant, as you won’t be allowed to rent otherwise—this is applicable as of 2023.
There’s a transitional period as we can raise the level of the property’s ranking, starting with audits that apply to homes in the E-rating as of January 1, 2025, and then later to homes in the D-rating from January 1, 2034.
The Climate and Resilience Law covers the following points:
• creating a CO2 score to display carbon usage on products for consumers
• advertisement for fossil fuels will be banned on all media
• mayors will have more power to control advertisements in the public space
• creation of low emission zones in large urban areas (by December 2024): polluting vehicles will be banned and additional subsidies will be offered for conversion to cleaner technologies
• commercial and stock rooftops of more than 500m2 will have to install renewable energy generation or be vegetated
• low emission vehicles should make up at least 95% of personal vehicle sales by 2030
• heavy polluting vehicles (emitting more than 95 g CO2) will be banned by 2030
• gradual elimination of TCIPE tax rebate for diesel engine for road freight transport by 2030
• air flights will be forbidden if a train alternative of less than 2:30 hours exists
• by 2024, all domestic flights will require carbon compensation by airline companies, and must implement a sufficient internal carbon price by 2025
• the rate of artificialization of soils (i.e. soils transformed for the construction of roads, buildings, or any type of infrastructure) should be divided by two
• prohibition of renting buildings with poor thermal insulation by 2028
• vegetarian options offered every day in public canteens
• collective catering services (i.e. those serving meals in public and private institutions) will need to include 50 percent sustainable products
• introduction of the concept of “ecocide,” by which a legal person will be accountable for pollution emitted and could face criminal sanctions in case of excessive pollution
• as of September 1, 2022, houses and buildings for low energy performance (class F or G) will have to go through an energy audit before being sold
The target is to reach carbon neutrality in France by 2050, which involves prioritizing renewable energies. To achieve this goal, France will also have to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels by 40 percent compared to 2012 by 2030. Additional measures includes the obligation of installing photovoltaic systems (conversion of light into electricity) during construction work on commercial premises, large office buildings, and car parks. Gas suppliers will be required to include a portion of biogas in the gas sold (a mixture of gases, primarily consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste and food waste).
Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius—a threshold the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) suggests is safe—carbon neutrality by mid-21st century is essential. This target is also laid down in the Paris agreement signed by 195 countries, including the EU.
Will France reach its goals for carbon neutrality? I won’t likely be alive to find out, but you might!
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Next week I’ll be traveling in Portugal for our annual summer vacation. Nouvellettres® may or may not be published as I take this one break from the usual work week…but never say never, and never say forever…so stay tuned for what may or may not come!