The pointe du Van, located in western Brittany
See also: Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Sea, National parks of France, and Regional natural parks of France
France was one of the first countries to create a Ministry of the Environment, in 1971. Although France is one of the most industrialised and developed countries, it is ranked only seventeenth by carbon dioxide emissions, behind such less populous nations as Canada, Saudi Arabia or Australia. This situation results from the French government's decision to invest in nuclear power in 1974 (after the 1973 oil crisis), which now accounts for 78% of France's energy production and explains why France pollutes less than comparable countries. Like all European Union members, France agreed to cut carbon emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by the year 2020, in comparison the USA agreed to a fall of 4% of its emissions whereas China stated it wanted to "reduce its carbon intensity by 40-45% by the year 2020" (compared with 2005 levels), which means with a GDP growth of 8% yearly an augmentation of 80% to 250% of the Chinese carbon emissions by 2020.
In 2009, the French carbon dioxide emissions per capita level is lower than the Chinese one.
France was even set to impose a carbon tax in 2009 at 17 Euros per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. The carbon tax would have brought in 4.3 billion Euros of revenue per year. However, 6 months later, the plan for a carbon tax was abandoned for various reasons, one being that French companies would have a more difficult time competing with companies in neighboring countries who would not have to pay such steep taxes on carbon dioxide emissions. Instituting a carbon tax was also an unpopular political move for President Sarkozy.
In 2010, a study at Yale and Columbia universities ranked France the most environmentally conscious nation of the G20.
Forests account for 28,27% of the land area of France,. France is the second most wooded country of the EU. French forests are also ones of the most diversified of Europe, with more than 140 differents varieties of trees. There are 9 national parks and 46 natural parks in France. France wants to convert 20% of its Exclusive Economic Zone in a Marine Protected Area by 2020.
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