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The challenge of carbon neutrality by 2050. How do we get there?

What is carbon neutrality ?  

Carbon neutrality does not mean the complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the European Parliament's definition, carbon neutrality is "the balance between carbon emissions and the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere by carbon sinks". 

The scale of the challenge is therefore clear. It imposes drastic reductions in anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), particularly in the energy production and consumption sectors, as well as the deployment of solutions for removing carbon from the atmosphere. Maximizing natural carbon sinks (including reforestation and sustainable land use) and the use of innovative technologies can help. 

To achieve this, rapid and far-reaching transitions are needed in all key components of the economic system: energy, industry, buildings, transport and land use. Not to mention in our lifestyles, by reducing our own personal carbon footprint.

What actions are under way to achieve carbon neutrality ?

 

The European Union has set itself a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The National Low-Carbon Strategy (Stratégie Nationale Bas Carbone - SNBC) is France's roadmap to combat climate change. It involves several actions:

- Completely decarbonize energy production by 2050: biomass resources, geothermal energy, heat pumps, carbon-free electricity (nuclear & renewables);
- Reduce energy consumption in all sectors, by strengthening energy efficiency and becoming more modest in our consumption patterns, without loss of comfort;
- Reduce emissions unrelated to energy consumption, for example from agriculture and industrial processes;
- Increase carbon sinks (natural and technological) to absorb residual incompressible emissions by 2050, while developing biomass production. 

Calculating the carbon footprint makes it possible to assess the amount of anthropogenic CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. We obtain an estimate of this quantity in kilograms of CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq). Carrying out a carbon assessment makes it possible to analyze which activities are the most polluting and thus put in place appropriate actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is important to make the calculation across the entire life cycle of a product. 

 

How to calculate your carbon footprint

Many calculators are available to enable you to quickly calculate the impact of your activity on the climate. These calculators are based on the Bilan Carbone® GHG inventory methodology developed by ADEME and accessible on its Ecolab simulator or on the Micmac site of the Climate Future association. These tools allow everyone to calculate their carbon footprint in different areas, from food to transport, including housing, and they suggest practical tailored actions to reduce it. 

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050: is this goal still realistic ? 

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

If we suddenly stopped emitting greenhouse gases on a global scale tomorrow, 40% of the surplus CO2 that we have created would still be in the atmosphere a century later, and 20% would still be there after 1,000 years. CO2's very high chemical stability is at the root of this persistence effect. Due to the inertia of CO2 in the atmosphere, climate change will continue to increase for decades, centuries or millennia if nothing is done. 

France is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. It should be noted that because of the significant share of nuclear power, combined with renewables, in its current energy mix, France is the country which emits the least CO2 equivalent per inhabitant out of the seven most developed nations. Thanks in large part to nuclear power, but also to renewables including hydropower, more than 90% of France's electricity is low carbon. 

Capture and store CO2 in the atmosphere

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is counting heavily on CO2 capture and storage. It estimates, in its optimistic scenario where the warming of the planet is limited to 2 °C by 2100, that this technique could contribute up to 14% to the global reduction of CO2 emissions coming from fossil origin by 2060. This is notable, but not sufficient; hence the need to develop low-carbon energy sources and also energy efficiency.

To find out more, visit :  Club CO2 - How to capture CO2 ? (club-co2.fr) 

Orano: 15 years of reducing GHG emissions 

In addition to being convinced of the role that nuclear power can play in the energy transition and in the production of low-carbon electricity, Orano is committed to contributing to the Paris Agreement and the collective drive for carbon neutrality by 2050. The Group has already reduced its GHG emissions and has set itself a new objective: to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2025 compared to 2015, the reference year for the National Low-Carbon Strategy. 

This performance to date is the result of the implementation of new industrial processes and the modernizing of our industrial assets using the most advanced facilities in the world, enabling our environmental footprint to be reduced. It is also the result of technological choices that will be implemented, as in the case of the used fuel recycling plant at la Hague, with the preferential use of electricity over fuel oil for the production of steam at the site. More than 10 projects have been studied to date, with a potential reduction of 80,000 tons of CO2


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