What the French government’s energy sobriety plan contains

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The French government on Thursday presented a battery of energy saving measures, sector by sector, in order to avoid power cuts this winter in the event of a gas shortage. This plan must also put France on track for its longer-term objectives in the fight against global warming.

Save energy, now: the French government unveiled, Thursday, October 6, a sobriety plan “chosen” and developed with the major sectors of the economy and daily life, with “15 flagship measures” to pass the uninterrupted winter, but also preparing French for the much larger savings required by the climate emergency.

“There is an urgent need to act, the fight will not stop in the winter of 2022-2023”, declared the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, in a pavilion at the Parc des expositions where ministers were meeting, patrons and other officials.

The minister sounded the “general mobilization” of the whole country, to achieve in two years “10% reduction in energy consumption”, compared to 2019, a “first step” to reach the trajectory of 40% recommended for 2050 by climate experts.

>> To read: Energy savings: the government’s first climate challenge

“If the whole nation manages to meet this objective, which is purely voluntary – you don’t need a decree of law, complicated things -, if we all mobilize to meet it, in the worst scenarios we will spend the winter” , an insured in the morning Emmanuel Macron defending the plan in front of entrepreneurs.

“The energy we save is the cheapest,” the president once again underlined. But “that does not mean ‘produce less’ or ‘move towards a degrowth economy’. Not at all, sobriety just means ‘gain efficiency'”.

Elisabeth Borne, for her part, decreed “general mobilization” to avoid “power cuts in the coming months”. “Sobriety means avoiding unnecessary consumption and not all consuming at the same time (…) Everyone must act according to their abilities,” said the Prime Minister.

Half a century after the first oil shock and its famous “waste hunt”, the French, households and businesses alike, will have to relearn how to reduce their electricity consumption during peak hours, in the morning and in the evening, and to burn less gas throughout the winter, to save reserves. Here are the main measures released Thursday afternoon by the government.

State buildings and public officials:

  • Limitation of heating to 19°C in offices and experimentation with a maximum temperature of 18°C ​​on days of high tension on the network (red EcoWatt).
  • Abolition of the obligation of hot water in the toilets, except where it is deemed essential (showers, cleaning, etc.).
  • Increase in the fixed allowance for State employees in the event of teleworking.
  • Encouragement to use the train rather than the plane for journeys of less than four hours (or six hours round trip if it is done during the day). State agents are also encouraged to drive their service vehicle more slowly (110 km/h instead of 130 km/h on the motorway, for example).
  • Reduction of public lighting by local authorities and use of low consumption lamps (LED) in establishments open to the public.


  • The government has drawn up a list of 15 “concrete actions” to be implemented by all companies, including industrial ones, in terms of heating, lighting, insulation of buildings, movement of employees and deliveries, the use of telework on EcoWatt red days.
  • Specific measures concern the trade, market services and tourism sectors, such as reducing light by 30% in supermarkets, switching off advertising and neon signs after stores are closed, limiting the temperature to 17°C in hotels and restaurants in the absence of staff and customers.
  • Some companies have already announced their own measures. The major supermarket chains have thus pledged to reduce their lighting by 40% to 70% and to reduce heating by 2°C. Vinci has announced that the temperature will be capped at 17°C in the airports it manages.

Sports infrastructure:

  • Reduction in consumption related to lighting in the stadiums of professional football and rugby clubs before and after matches.
  • Reduction of 1°C in the temperature of all the swimming pools and of 2°C in that of the gymnasiums.

General population:

  • The Ministry of Transport will encourage carpooling by paying a bonus of 100 euros and making the payment of public transport or public service bicycle packages fiscally more attractive for employers.
  • Maintenance of the “MaPrimeRénov” system for the energy renovation of housing, adoption of more efficient heating systems and equipment with thermostats.
  • The government will launch “Every gesture counts”, a communication campaign intended to encourage the French to pay attention to their daily energy consumption.

With AFP and Reuters


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