French government presents roadmap to bridge digital and environmental transitions

This new roadmap is developed along three lines: "develop knowledge of the digital environmental footprint", "support a more sober digital environment" and "make digital technology a lever for ecological and solidarity transition". EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

France’s Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili and the Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, unveiled on Tuesday (23 February) the government’s national strategy to bring environmental and digital issues together. EURACTIV France was able to see the document before publication.

With digital technologies being responsible for 5-10% of the pollution in France, the government is due to announce several measures to improve the sector’s ecological footprint on Tuesday (23 February).

This new roadmap is developed along three lines: “develop knowledge of the digital environmental footprint”, “support a more sober digital environment” and “make digital technology a lever for the ecological and solidarity transition”.

Drawing inspiration from the report submitted in June 2020 by the Citizen’s Climate Convention, the government has proposed to implement several measures, including an environmental barometer for digital players drawn up by the French Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution (ARCEP), an awareness-raising campaign on less polluting digital practices, and increased funding for GreenTech.

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France’s ‘climate and resilience’ bill – due to be examined by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday (10 February) – has already come under fire, particularly after a report published on Monday denounced tactics used by the industry to torpedo proposals made by the Citizen’s Climate Convention (CCC). EURACTIV France reports.

A quite ambitious roadmap

“We need precise, clear, objective data and consensus methodologies on the real impact of digital technology on the environment,” said the document, seen by EURACTIV France.

To do this, the government wants to create a “quantification methodology” for this ecological footprint in partnership with the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, known as AEDME, and ARCEP.

The French executive also intends to tackle the lifecycles and environmental costs of manufacturing digital equipment, since the waste stream from electronics is increasing by 2% a year in Europe and less than 40% of it is being recycled.

The roadmap also appears quite ambitious in its desire to promote a circular economy as it calls for increased eco-design, repair, reuse, reconditioning, and obsolescence control, among other things.

More generally, the government is also proposing to better inform consumers with, for example, a reparability and durability index for electronic equipment, and promote France’s re-use and re-conditioning sector.

In addition to requiring public purchasers to use more than 20% of refurbished or second-hand computers and telephone equipment as of 2021, the government also intends to “support the GreenTech ecosystem by mobilising digital technology”.

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[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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