French carbon emissions fell 4.2% year-on-year in 2018

PARIS (Reuters) - Carbon dioxide emissions in France fell by 4.2% in 2018 compared with the previous year due to a drop in emissions from the transport sector, a mild winter, and abundant supply of French nuclear energy which curbed the use of thermal power.

Emissions were estimated at 445 million tonnes of CO2, the French environment ministry said in a statement. It is the first drop in emissions after two consecutive years of increase.

The downward trend was notably as a result of a reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector for the first time since 2013, despite economic growth, the ministry said.

It was also favored by various cyclical factors, including a mild winter which reduced demand for heating, and a good availability of state-controlled utility EDF’s nuclear and hydropower generation fleet.

France, like other European nations, is aiming to hit net zero green house gas emissions by 2050 and has introduced legislation to help reach that target.

“If much remains to be done, this excellent news shows that our actions have produced the first results,” French environment minister Francois de Rugy said in the statement.

“It also confirms that our commitment to a strong and ambitious climate change policy is not in vain, and that we can win the climate battle,” he said.

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Geert De Clercq