This case study aims to provide additional insights on the establishment of an effective national climate governance framework through an extensive case study of the French experience. In order to provide a full picture and understanding of the lessons learned for other countries, the study addresses three research questions:
- Understanding the political economy behind the transition
- Assessing the key elements of the governance framework
- What are the specific challenges related to the actual implementation of the legal framework?
STEPPING BACK ON THE FRENCH ENERGY TRANSITION PROCESS
The development of robust climate governance frameworks on the national level is a core challenge for the implementation for the Paris climate Agreement. With many countries currently developing or revising their own legal frameworks, this report takes a look at the lessons learned from the French experience. In order to provide an in-depth understanding, this study pursues a twofold-approach, considering both the political process leading up to the adoption of the French Energy Transition Law and the assessment of the substance in terms of targets, policy instruments and governance processes.
INGREDIENTS FOR AN EFFECTIVE CLIMATE FRAMEWORK
Qualified as a “world leader” by the IEA, the French climate governance framework also came first in a recent WWF survey on low-carbon strategies in Europe. Indeed, it integrates all the core ingredients for effective climate policy such as legally binding targets, an economy-wide carbon price signal and strong governance mechanisms to ensure effective planning in line with the long-term ambition.
TARGETING THE PARIS OBJECTIVES
Regarding the compatibility with the Paris Agreement, the French experience offers key insights for other countries. First of all, the 2017 revision of the French long-term target (heading for climate neutrality by 2050) illustrates how the ratchet-effect can be implemented in practice on the national level. Similarly, the French case highlights the importance of going beyond a policy approach focused on the energy sector alone, in order to develop a deep-decarbonization strategy that addresses all economic sectors, including agriculture, waste and forestry.
PENDING ISSUES FOR IMPLEMENTATION
Nevertheless, several lessons can be learned from the challenges France is facing in the actual implementation of its low-carbon strategy over the last years, showing that the devil lies in the details. This is particularly the case with regard to the importance of streamlining monitoring, evaluation and revision processes for the National Low-Carbon Strategy in order to address potential implementation gaps. And the importance of granting a clear policy mandate and resources for independent institutions such as the Expert Committee for the Energy Transition.