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Associated topic:  greenhouse effect

Emissions monitoring period: since 1960

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2017


Source of the pollutant

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colourless, odourless gas mainly released by the combustion of fossil or biomass fuels in the residential and tertiary sectors, transport and industry. In France, these sources account for some 95% of total emissions excluding land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). CO2 is also released naturally by respiration in living beings, forest fires and volcanic eruptions.

Part of these emissions is absorbed by natural or artificial reservoirs known as "carbon sinks", which are mainly oceans, forests and soils.


Effect of the pollutant

The toxicity of CO2 is low in small doses. In high doses, it can cause dizziness, headaches and asphyxia when it displaces the oxygen in air. It can also increase the heart rate and blood pressure.

As regards its environmental effects, CO2 is one of the main greenhouse gases. In 2015, it accounted for 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions in France (including LULUCF). The rapidly increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is linked to increasing fossil fuel consumption and decreasing forest cover worldwide (tropical forests absorb 1 to 2 kg of CO2 per m2 per year, while European forests or croplands absorb only 0.2 to 0.5 kg of CO2 per m2 per year). CO2 also has a significant impact on ocean acidification. As oceans absorb CO2, their pH drops and they become more acid, which threatens large numbers of marine species.


Sub-sectors* with the highest emission levels (excluding Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry or LULUCF) in 2015

Classification Sub-sectors Share of sub-sector in total national emissions in mainland France
1 Diesel-fuelled passenger cars 16%
2 Residential sector 15%
3 Diesel-fuelled heavy duty vehicles (including buses and coaches) 8.1%
4 Tertiary sector 7.7%
5 Diesel-fuelled light-duty vehicles 7.0%
6 Non-metallic minerals, building materials 5.7%
7 Chemical industry 5.5%
8 Electricity production 5.0%
9 Ferrous metals production 5.0%

*: one sector out of six (energy transformation, manufacturing industry, residential/tertiary, agriculture/forestry, road transport and other transport) is broken down into sub-sectors.


Emissions and trends

  Including LULUCF Excluding LULUCF
Minimum observed: 270 Mt in 1960 296 Mt in 1960
Maximum observed: 485 Mt in 1973 537 Mt in 1973
Emissions in 2015: 284 Mt 327 Mt
Trends 2015/1980: -36.0% -35.9%
Trends 2015/1990: -21.5% -17.2%
Trends 2015/maximum: -41.5% -39.2%
Trends 2015/minimum: +5.2% +10.5%

Measurement unit: Mt (megatonne)
N.B. : emissions include those from combustion and from processes.

Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017


Graph CO2 17v2

Graph Legende avec UTCATF

Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Tab CO2 17

(a) Net emissions in the sector excluding CO2 emissions from renewable energy, especially biomass.
(b) CO2 from biomass combustion, not including in net CO2 emissions of the sector.
(*) Following UNFCCC definitions: emissions classified "except total" are not included, i.e. emissions from international inland waterway, maritime and air transport and emissions not from human sources.
(**) Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry
(e) preliminary estimate



During the 1960-2015 period, CO2 emissions excluding LULUCF and excluding biomass increased whereas between 1990 and 2015, they decreased (by -17%), while primary energy consumption (with climate corrections) increased by 13% during the same period.

Morover, ... (to read more, consult the SECTEN report online via your login and password)


Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2017