French President Emmanuel Macron presented his carbon emission reduction targets for the industrial sector on Tuesday (8 November), highlighting the need for investment in greener industry and countering American protectionism.

In France, industry represents more than 3.2 million jobs and just over 10% of the country’s GDP. But in 2021, the sector was also responsible for more than 20% of the country’s carbon emissions, excluding imported emissions.

At a meeting with the heads of the most emission-heavy industrial sites at the Élysée Palace on Tuesday, Macron unveiled his decarbonisation strategy.

The aim is to halve over the next ten years the emissions of 50 industrial sites that are among the 120 biggest carbon emitters in France. The proposal would thereby reduce French carbon emissions by 5 %.

€5 billion secured

Of the total €5 billion secured to finance the scheme, €4 billion will be distributed based on the “quality of the decarbonisation projects” presented, as opposed to distributing it per reduced ton of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The remaining €1 billion will be dedicated to “the deployment of low-carbon technologies and the support by the State and its operators of 26,000” small and medium-sized businesses over the next five years, Macron said.

With “low-carbon technologies,” the President intends to secure financing of low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and sequestration, as well as the “prioritisation of biomass for applications where there is no alternative.”

Countering American protectionism

To launch the French program of environmental planning for industry, Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher visited Lumbres, in France’s Pas-de-Calais department on Wednesday (November 9), to discuss decarbonisation with cement manufacturers at Eqiom, where experiments in carbon capture and sequestration are being conducted.

As further motivation, the government announced that it will double the funding “if the industry doubles its efforts,” with a first assessment within 18 months after the meeting.

“Our strategy is clear,” the French President explained. It is “to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 as to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” in line with the EU’s objectives.

The ambition is twofold: The fight against global warming should also be an opportunity for a new and internationally competitive EU industry.

To preserve the attractiveness of the continent, the President said he will work to reduce taxes on production “in the coming years”, as he promised during his 2022 presidential campaign, after a reduction in corporate tax enacted this year.

“I cannot speak about the decarbonisation of [European] industry without mentioning the Inflation Reduction Act,” the French President continued.

In place since August, the US Inflation Reduction Act allocates more than $369 billion to support companies wishing to set up in the United States in fields such as the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles.

As the EU cannot compete with such sums, the act creates an incentive for European manufacturers to relocate across the Atlantic.

For Macron, this was an opportunity to call for a revision of the EU’s state aid rules, which limits government aid to companies as a way to preserve fair competition in the EU internal market between large and small countries.