Key figures on climate
France, Europe and Worldwide

Carbon footprint and territorial emissions

Two complementary methods can be used to assess a country's pressure on the climate:

  • National inventories (territorial approach) record the quantities of GHGs physically emitted within the country by households (cars and housing) and economic activities (fossil fuel consumption, industrial processes and agricultural emissions). Data from inventories, compiled annually to meet UNFCCC standards, are the most common and are currently the preferred basis for international comparisons.
  • The carbon footprint is an estimate of the GHG emissions induced by a country's domestic final demand (final consumption and investments). The footprint is made up of direct household emissions (housing and vehicles), emissions from domestic production (excluding exports) and emissions from foreign economic activities whose production is destined for domestic imports.

Comparison of France's carbon footprint and the national inventory in 2019

Note: the footprint and inventory (see glossary) cover the three main GHGs (CO2, CH4, N2O) excluding LULUCF.
Because international transport is accounted for differently in each approach, the subtotals (household emissions and domestic production emissions) in the footprint and inventory are not identical.
Scope: Kyoto perimeter (metropolitan France and EU overseas territories).
Sources: Citepa; IEA, EDGAR-JRC; FAO; Customs; Eurostat; Insee. Processing: SDES, 2023

France's carbon footprint is significantly higher than its domestic emissions: 625 Mt CO2 eq versus 423 Mt CO2 eq, i.e. 48% more emissions in 2019. Emissions associated with exports account for 28% of emissions on the national territory, while emissions associated with imports make up half of the carbon footprint in 2019.

International comparison of CO2 emissions by approach

Source: Global Carbon Budget 2022. Processing: SDES, 2023

Between 1990 and 2020, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, flaring and cement production in OECD countries fell by 8% according to the inventory approach and by 3% according to the footprint approach. In the EU-27, over the same period, they fell by 32% according to the inventory approach and by 27% according to the footprint approach. These decreases are partly linked to the health crisis.

In 2021, inventory emissions from OECD countries and the EU-27 increased compared with 2020, but did not exceed 2019 emission levels. Footprint emissions data for 2021 are not yet available.

In China, emissions more than quadrupled between 1990 and 2020.

Evolution of France's carbon footprint

(e) = estimates.
Note: the carbon footprint covers the three main greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O).
Scope: "Kyoto" perimeter (metropolitan France and EU overseas territories).
Sources: Citepa; IEA; FAO; Customs; Eurostat; Insee. Processing: SDES, 2023

In 2022, according to provisional estimates, France's carbon footprint would be 623 Mt CO2 eq, up 8% on 2021. After the drop in emissions in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the footprint would rise again, returning to a level close to 2019 in 2022.

Since 1995, the carbon footprint has decreased by 7%, while domestic final demand, the volume of which partly determines the level of the footprint, has increased by 51%. This reduction in the footprint reflects two distinct dynamics: a 33% reduction in domestic emissions and a 32% increase in emissions associated with imports. By 2022, imported emissions would account for 56% of total footprint emissions.

On a per capita basis, the carbon footprint is estimated at 9.2 tonnes of CO2 eq per person in 2022, down 19% on 1995.

The carbon footprint of France's final demand by consumption item

In 2019, the average carbon footprint of a French person is estimated at 9.3 tonnes of CO2 eq. Direct household emissions and those associated with the 64 goods and services making up final demand can be allocated to different consumption items: travel, housing, food, equipment and services.

Transportation, housing and food account for three-quarters of the GHG emissions in France's carbon footprint: 32% for household transport (3.0 t CO2 eq/capita), 22% for housing (2.1 t CO2 eq/capita), 21% for food (1.9 t CO2 eq/capita), 10 % for the purchase of capital goods (0.9 t CO2 eq/capita) and 15% for market and non-market services used by households (1.4 t CO2 eq/capita). Around half of emissions are imported for travel (49%), food (47%), and administration, health, education and social action (44%). Imported emissions are predominant for equipment (82%) and market services (62%), and a minority for housing (37%).

Breakdown of the carbon footprint by consumption item in 2019

Note: the footprint and inventory (see glossary) cover the three main GHGs (CO2, CH4, N2O) excluding LULUCF.
Scope: "Kyoto" perimeter (metropolitan France and EU overseas territories).
Sources: SDES, 2023, based on Citepa; AIE; EDGAR-JRC; FAO; Douanes; Eurostat; Insee