The aim of this article is threefold: firstly, it briefly retraces the policy process that led to the adoption of the French Energy Transition Law over the last three years (2012-2015). Secondly, it provides a summary of the law’s contents, including the main targets and measures. Eventually, it puts this overview into perspective, through an analysis of the key challenges for implementation, with a special focus on the new governance framework for the energy transition.

Key messages:

  • After 3 years of extensive debates, the French energy transition law was adopted in July 2015. Through its 215 articles, it provides a comprehensive and ambitious roadmap for the transformation of the energy system and introduces various policy instruments.
  • The transition builds on strong objectives for GHG reduction (-40% until 2030, -75% by 2050), energy efficiency (reducing demand by 20% until 2030 and 50% until 2050), and the diversification of energy supply through reduced nuclear and fossil fuels and an accelerated deployment of renewables.
  • The law introduces a clear trajectory for the carbon price signal introduced in 2014, which should reach up to €56/ton by 2022 and €100/ton by 2030, applying to the final consumption of transport and heating fuels.
  • Other key measures include new obligations to massively deploy building retrofits and the evolution of renewable support mechanisms towards a market premium scheme.
  • While the adoption of the law represented a lengthy process, its implementation over the coming years will be even more challenging: the law essentially introduces a framework of governance by objectives, including a profusion of new targets and planning instruments. However, it might very well become an empty shell if this framework is not backed with equally strong measures to provide an effective implementation strategy.
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