Emmanuel Macron presents his ecological planning programme

On Monday, 25 September, following a meeting of the Ecological Planning Council, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, outlined a plan comprising around fifty measures to establish a “French-style ecology”. Nuclear energy plays a significant role in this objective.

Having been postponed several times, the Ecological Planning Council convened on 25 September. Macron presented his ambition for a programme to combat climate disruption, the collapse of biodiversity, and the end of abundance. This plan aims to reduce emissions by 5% a year to fulfil France’s ambitions.

Macron introduced the concept of “sovereign ecology”, aimed at drastically reducing France’s imports of fossil fuels. The goal is to decrease the share of fossil fuels in France’s energy mix “from 60% to 40% by 2030”, Macron explained, with a total phase-out of coal by 2027. He also highlighted that dependence on hydrocarbons cost France €120 billion a year.

Confirmation of an energy law

Macron explained that the ecological planning approach had already been set out in the Belfort speech in February 2022. It was built on three pillars: sobriety, deployment of renewable energies, and reinforcement of nuclear power. Macron also announced that an energy law would be presented to Parliament in December. While the future of the legislative text seemed increasingly uncertain, this announcement puts an end to the debate within the government on the need for a law or a decree.

On Tuesday, 26 September, the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, provided further details on the Energy-Climate Programming Law (Loi de programmation énergie-climat or LPEC). She mentioned that France would be integrating the resurgence of nuclear power with EDF, which has a management target of 400 TWh of production. However, the government will adopt a “conservative” figure of 360 TWh. This trajectory aligns with the target set in RTE’s latest 2035 Generation Adequacy Report. Significant targets have also been set for onshore solar and wind power, offshore wind power, pumped storage, and batteries.

In his speech, Macron underscored the atom’s vital role in assisting the country in meeting its climate objectives: “I hope that all the political groups, which contribute to the nation’s life when they sometimes hastily condemn nuclear power, realize that all the scientists tell us that there’s no strategy without nuclear power.”

Regaining control of electricity prices

A central theme of Macron’s presentation was competitiveness and the aspiration to “regain control of electricity prices”. Noting that EDF has been nationalized and that France boasts a considerable nuclear infrastructure, the government aims to announce competitive electricity prices by the year’s end, offering clarity for households and industries. This topic has been central to energy discussions in Brussels for several months.

Safety reform

Beyond ecological planning, Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher shared that she would introduce legislation in the upcoming months to reform the governance of the French nuclear safety system. Safety reform is a touchy subject, on which the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (Opecst) rendered an opinion last July. The parliamentarians recommended merging the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). ■

By the Editorial Team (Sfen)
Photo by Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP