Top French firms commit to climate change fight

In Montpellier, pharmaceutical laboratory Sanofi has been using waste heat recovery facilities since 2019 in order to reduce the site's gas consumption and associated CO2 emissions, with the ultimate goal of "zero CO2 emissions". [branislavpudar/Shutterstock]

The French Association of Private Companies (AFEP) updated on Wednesday (7 July) the Ambition 4 Climate platform, which brings together the projects of 64 large companies with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality. EURACTIV France reports.

French companies L’Oréal, Engie, Fnac Darty, Icade, Ipsen, General Electric, Sanofi have all committed to limiting their greenhouse gas emissions through various projects of the Ambition 4 Climate platform launched last April.

With the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November, 46 new low-carbon projects were added to the platform, bringing the total number of projects initiated by French companies to 114.

The projects listed in the platform are “the result of a voluntary approach initiated by companies and have an impact on many of the economy’s value chains,” the AFEP said. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, AFEP companies are implementing projects based on seven action plans, the most important of which concern energy-related issues.

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Decarbonisation of energy consumption 

Many of the companies listed on the platform are opting for decarbonisation in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The heating and air conditioning of buildings, solar and wind energy, switching to e-cars or even using biofuels for rail freight are among some of the various companies’ pledges.

Cosmetics company L’Oréal has decided to diversify its energy mix with the aim of reducing consumption and in 2015 launched the CO2 Zero project at its Settimo factory in Italy.

The Settimo factory is heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer by the city’s district heating network and the thermal energy it uses for production comes from biogas. “Two-thirds of the electricity needs are met by a biomass plant, the remaining third by 14,000 photovoltaic panels on the factory roof”, L’Oréal added.

In Montpellier, pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has been using waste heat recovery facilities since 2019 in order to reduce the site’s gas consumption and associated CO2 emissions, with the ultimate goal of “zero CO2 emissions”.

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A green recovery plan 

The launch of the Ambition 4 Climate platform comes after the European Commission validated the French recovery plan on 23 June, more than half of which will be allocated to the ecological transition – €5.8 billion for the energy renovation of buildings, €1.9 billion for the development of low-carbon energy, and €4.4 billion for upgrading the rail network.

France’s climate-driven recovery plan is complemented with its national low-carbon strategy (SNBC), which set a 40% emissions-reduction target for 2030, and a carbon neutrality goal for 2050.

Last week, France’s top administrative court, the Council of State, condemned the government’s failure to comply with the Paris Agreement and fight global warming, giving it nine months to get in line with the climate objectives it signed up to. “The government admits that the measures currently in force do not make it possible to achieve the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030,” the judges said.

This ruling came shortly after the publication of a report on 29 June in which the High Council for Climate Change (HCC) criticised France for making “insufficient” efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

By the end of 2021, new projects should join the Ambition 4 Climate movement, in line with the “climate neutrality objectives set for 2050”.

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[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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