The Region of Auvergne Rhone-Alpes

Population: 6.39 million (2013)

GDP: 197 billion (2012

Country: France

Total GHG emissions (year): 40,4million tons CO2e (2012)

GHG emissions/capita/year: 6,32 CO2e per capita (2012)

Rhône-Alpes is the second biggest region of France in terms of its population, land area and economy, representing 10% of national GDP. Like each French region, Rhône-Alpes has powers over planning in towns and rural areas, and is responsible, together with the State, for the elaboration and implementation of a regional strategy in the field of climate, air and energy (see below). The Region is also responsible for economical development, managing public transports and high schools.

The tertiary sector forms the main body of the region’s economy, accounting for 58% (48% services and 10% trade) of employment. Industry and public sectors share important roles as well, with 15.5% and 20% of employment respectively (source: INSEE 2009).

The region’s main sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the transportation, building and industrial sectors, which together embody 80% of absolute emissions. Power generation only accounts for a modest 5,4% of total emissions (2005 - source: SRCAE), since 90% of primary power produced comes from nuclear power sources (but is largely exported and represents less than 20% of Rhône-Alps’ final consumption). Rhône-Alpes also accounts for 30% of French hydro-energy production.

Endowed with exceptional natural resources (Alps mountains, natural parks, etc.) that are extremely sensitive to climate change, Rhône-Alpes has been committed since 2004 to an ambitious climate and sustainable development policy. Its policy is based on two main principles:

  • Exemplarity, through the application of sustainable development policies to the regional administration itself
  • Eco-responsibility, encouraging that all subsidized activities and stakeholders take into account climate issues
  • Key Targets / Successes

    Climate policy and GHG emissions reduction targets:

    Rhône-Alpes is implementing a host of actions to tackle climate change challenges. These actions are currently being structured in a climate plan which has been adopted in 2013. According to the Plenary Assembly in October 2010, the region has targeted a 40% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020, and 80% by 2050 (based on 1990 levels).

    During the World Summit Climate and Territories, Rhône-Alpes has endorsed the Under2MoU, committing to an even more ambitious goal of reducing its emissions from 80 to 85% by 2050.

    Since 2005, the Regional Council has launched 65 specific actions for sustainable development. The Council also incorporates sustainable development into every policy and project. It has no overall targets, but boasts over 50 projects in which more than 400 agents are involved. For example, in Public Procurement, all regional contracts must have a sustainability clause. 

    Rhône-Alpes has a laureate program to provide financial support to projects in sustainable development. This support encourages private organizations and individuals to take the lead in greening their own operations.

    Energy and climate action also play a strong role in the Regional Strategy of Innovation and Smart Specialization  (SRI-SI), an ex-ante condition for the attribution of European structural funds. The Region has identifies, together with its economical stakeholders, 7 areas of smart specialisation, among which:

    • Eco-efficient industrial process and industries
    • Energy networks and storage
    • High energy-efficiency buildings
    • Smart transportation systems

    The identification of such main issues will allow the concentration of resources on climate-friendly research and innovation in Rhône-Alpes.

    Most innovative climate actions and emissions reduction successes: 

    In 2012, Rhône-Alpes has reached the European target to bring the part of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20%

    Thanks to ambitious policies, green house gas emissions are steadily declining in Rhône-Alpes (-6% in 2012 based on 1990 levels)

  • Current activities

    Flagship initiative

    Rhône-Alpes has implemented the innovative tool OSER (regional energy services operator), with two tools:

    • The SPL (local public enterprise) OSER, gathering local authorities in order to pool technical and financial resources for building rehabilitation and for the development of renewable energies. More information (in French only
    • The investment funds for renewable energy, with 9.5 million € dedicated to a venture-risk society aiming at financing local renewable energy projects (15 projects expected in three years, with a leverage effect from 1 to 10)

    Renewable Energy:

    Rhône-Alpes has targeted 29,6% of overall energy demand to be generated by renewables by 2020. The regional policy encourages an energy transition which will produce a devolved energy model, with renewable energy gradually replacing fossil fuel generation. The targeted model will be backed by increased investments in renewable energy. The regional policy targets all stakeholders, from local authorities to private individuals, as well as businesses. Subsidies of 20-50% are allocated for actions that support investments in renewable energy.

    Rhône-Alpes is also committed in various European projects targeting renewable energy development or energy efficiency. It is currently the leader of the COOPENERGY project, aiming at helping local authorities to elaborate and implement actions plan to develop their use of renewable energy.

    Energy efficiency:

    Rhône-Alpes is committed to a 14% reduction in energy consumption in residential buildings, and a 9% reduction in tertiary buildings by 2020 (based on 1990 levels). Alongside this is a targeted 32% reduction in GHG emissions in residential buildings and a 34% reduction in tertiary buildings by 2020 (1990 levels). The global target I to reduce global final energy consumption by 20% by 2020 (1190 levels).

    The Regional Council also has jurisdiction over 271 public senior high schools as a real estate manager, responsible for the construction and maintenance of buildings. It plans to reduce the carbon emissions of its public high schools by 40%, and subsequent to preliminary audits, implementing actions such as installing insulation, high performance systems, low energy artificial lighting as well as other energy efficiency programs and services.

    On its own real estate, for the last 20 years, the Regional Council has developed biomass heating and domestic hot water to reach about 10% its public high schools’ heating demand. By 2012, it plans to reach 20% of overall energy demand, including specific electricity uses, developing biomass, solar heating and photovoltaic plants through private partnerships.

    Since 2005, more than 20,000 homes have been able to invest in thermal solar energy or wood-powered installations in the framework of the energy plan. Budgets of €20-25 million are earmarked for this purpose every year. With 2.5 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe), the renewable energy produced by the region stands at almost 15% of its energy consumption and is comprised mainly of hydroelectricity and biomass.

    Clean transportation:

    Rhône-Alpes has committed to a 27% reduction in GHG emissions and a 17% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 in the transportation sector (1990 levels). The initiative "Au travail j’y vais autrement" (I go to work differently) has gathered a consortium of 225 firms in an effort to establish new ways for their employees to travel to work using low carbon transport. Eco-mobility initiatives including walking, cycling, car sharing, inter-company and tourism related travel are also being run by the Regional Council, many of which are coordinated with public transport.

    Waste management:

    Rhône-Alpes has a program of waste management and recycling that includes electronic devices, toxic waste, batteries and car waste. As of 2009, around 630 000 tons of toxic waste had been processed. Food oils are recycled into bio-fuels or other products like candles.

    Sustainable land use:

    Rhône-Alpes has committed to a 2% reduction in energy consumption and a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 in the agriculture and forestry sectors (1990 levels). Forest covers 35% of the region (1.5 million hectares) and 60,000 jobs depend directly on forestry. Around 75% of woodlands are in private hands, and their protection is guaranteed through national regulations.


    Adaptation issues are specially targeted in Rhône-Alpes’ climate policies. The issue is analyzed through various key sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and health, with an emphasis on water resources.

    Rhône-Alpes as also implemented an Observatory of Climate Change Effects to anticipate the issues raised by climate change on its territory.

  • More info

    Devolved powers and competencies relevant to climate and energy:

    As far as regional policies are concerned, two institutions are in charge of climate change action: the DG on Climate, Environment, Health and Energy of the Regional Council and the Environmental Agency. The first defines regional policy on renewable energy, environment, natural conservation, waste management and air quality. The latter implements the environmental scheme passed by the Regional Council.

    Most important economic sectors:

    Tertiary (main economic sector with 56% of enterprises and 58% of employment)

    Industry (10% of enterprises, 18% of employment), with a focus on innovation (9th region in the EU for patents, 12 regional clusters and 13 “pôles de compétitivité” – science and research clusters): eco-technologies, life sciences, sports and mountain industries, creative and cultural industries, industrial subcontracting, micro and nanotechnologies 

    The Region’s traditional sectors are still strong, and Rhône-Alpes is the 1st French region for sectors such as mechanics and metallurgy (steel and aluminium), chemistry and plastics, electronics, textiles and small electric equipment 

    A strong role is also played by public buildings and works (BTP), which represents 7% of regional employment

    Rhône-Alpes is also one of the main French poles of transports and logistics 

    Tourism is also an important part of activity (2nd French region for tourism, one of the main ski regions worldwide)

    GHG breakdown by sector (%)













    Date: 2012 Source: OREGES

    Current power sector mix (%)















    Date: 2012 Source: OREGES


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