French lawmakers were set to adopt a new law on Wednesday that will halve the country’s energy consumption by 2050 and slash its reliance on nuclear energy.
Under the new law, which was to be put to a final vote in the National Assembly later Wednesday, nuclear energy will provide only 50 percent of France’s electricity by 2025, down from 75 percent currently.
Six months ahead of the global climate conference in Paris, the legislation also calls for a 30-percent drop in the use of fossil fuels by 2030 (compared with 2012 levels), and 40-percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 1990.
France is the most nuclear-dependent country in the world, and the second-biggest producer of nuclear energy with 58 reactors located in 19 power stations.
“It’s a long-awaited change, since no one, including the opposition, at any time denied the need to break the total dependence on nuclear,” said Socialist MP Francois Brottes who headed the parliamentary group reviewing the law.
– Struggling nuclear industry –
That did not stop widespread concerns, particularly among the conservative opposition, about the impact on France’s already struggling nuclear industry.
Only a month ago, Hollande’s office said the government would spend “as much as necessary” to save troubled nuclear group Areva (Paris: FR0011027143 – news) , which recorded a record net loss of 4.8 billion euros ($5.2 billion) last year.
Areva has faced reduced global demand since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and been hit by cost over-runs and construction difficulties at sites in Flamanville in northwestern France and Finland.
By setting a production limit of 63.2 gigawatts on nuclear parks, the government has effectively forced power companies to shut down older reactors as new ones come online.
Environment Minister Segolene Royal has said she wants France to become “a nation of environmental excellence” and said the reforms would create 100,000 new jobs in the green sector over the next three years.