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September 26, 2023

Editor’s note: Macron’s new net zero targets, greenwashing fines and a ‘red flag’ tool

Emmanuel Macron
French president Emmanuel Macron says his country plans to both end the use of fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030 (Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

Today, we start with a short tale of two countries. While the UK is watering down some of its green targets, across the Channel, France is boasting some new ones. 

French president Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Macron said it was essential that “France reduces our dependence on so-called fossil fuels, coal, petrol and gas, which we don’t produce any more but on which we depend”, as reported by The Guardian. This dependence would be reduced from the current 60 per cent to 40 per cent by the end of the decade.

If you read French, you might find this piece by Reuters useful too. There was a focus on nuclear energy in the speech, which France has long supported, and a new goal for coal. “The priority that we have set is that by January 2027 we will have totally ended the use of coal for our electricity production,” said Macron.

Though, on social media platform X, the Institute for Climate Economics’s Thomas Pellerin-Carlin noted that in 2017, France announced a 2022 target for the phasing out of coal. Still, Pellerin-Carlin is now hopeful that Macron will create a long-term climate investment plan for his country à la Inflation Reduction Act in the US.

Meanwhile, today the International Energy Agency has released the update to its Net Zero Roadmap report, which was originally published in 2021. There is some good news there: a record growth in solar power capacity and electric car sales in recent years has brought the world in line with reaching net zero emissions globally by mid-century, writes Philippa.

But keeping on this path requires far greater investments than previously anticipated, particularly in emerging and developing economies, with poorer countries requiring a sevenfold increase in clean energy investment, according to the IEA. Read our article for all the details.

For further reading on green commitments and policy, you may want to head to our knowledge hub, where you’ll find two new interesting reports.

One, by non-profit Carbon Market Watch, examines the carbon dioxide removal approaches of 20 jurisdictions and highlights the absence of a concrete definition for the practice and legally binding objectives. It urges the EU to lead in the adoption of tighter CO2 removal rules.

The other, by academics at the universities of Zurich and Oxford and funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature, shares details of a “red flag” tool that can help regulators, investors, as well as companies spot greenwashing. There will be a testing period, with results shared by the end of the year. It sounds like something worth monitoring.

The release seems rather timely as news emerged yesterday of DWS’s $19mn settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over greenwashing allegations – the highest ESG penalty by the watchdog. Our colleagues at the Financial Times have the details.

Pointedly, Desiree Fixler, the former DWS sustainability head who blew the whistle on the German asset manager, welcomed the WWF’s new tool in a LinkedIn post. 

Lastly, back in the UK, financial regulators seem to be taking a more decisive approach to sustainability, in the broader sense of the term, than the country’s policymakers. The Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority are consulting on corporate strategies for diversity and inclusion and to root out sexual harassment and bullying.

The two bodies launched a consultation yesterday, which Alex promptly reported on. Browse our website for more news and analysis about the UK, France and other countries.

Until tomorrow,

Silvia

Silvia Pavoni is the editor of Sustainable Views

This article was amended since publication to remove part of a sentence stating that France planned to stop using fossil fuels by 2030. The country intends to reduce its dependence on them, as the original version of the article also stated.

A service from the Financial Times