September 2011

The evolution of the French carbon footprint over the last 20 years

How much greenhouse gas does the average French person emit? The answer seems simple: take the country’s direct emissions, divide them by the total population, and you have the figure. As France’s direct emissions have been practically stable since 1990 and the population is growing, per capita emissions are falling. Thus the Environment Ministry can periodically proclaim that we have good marks in the fight against climate change. 

But in the era of globalisation things are not that simple. Many of the goods and services consumed in France are produced in other countries, and consequently we benefit from the consumption of these goods while the corresponding emissions are not visible in the country’s direct emissions. This issue of The Carbon Letter suggests another approach: totalling up not only the country’s direct emissions, but also all the emissions related to the manufacture of everything consumed in France, whether the production occurs in France or elsewhere. Surprise! It turns out that the work of reducing emissions is still ahead of us, in full. But without elaborating more, we leave you with the explanations given by the ECO2Climat team. Enjoy your reading!

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