France emitted 407 million metric tons (Mmt) of Carbon dioxide in 2002, the fourth-most in Europe. It also consumed 11.0 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of total energy, the second-largest amount in Europe. On the other hand, the energy intensity of France's economy in 2002 was Well below the average for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Further, the carbon dioxide intensity of the French economy in 2002 was the third-lowest in the OECD, behind only Switzerland and Sweden, an indication of France's reliance upon nuclear energy.

France has been the victim of several major Oil spills that resulted in severe environmental damage to France's coastline and caused serious economic harm to France's tourism and fishing industries. In response, the French government has taken a proactive approach to preventing marine pollution by establishing an extended ecological zone into the Mediterranean Sea and imposing more stringent conditions on oil tankers.
Air pollution, especially in Paris, is still a problem, despite the adoption of measures to mitigate the effects of increased transportation and growing energy consumption from France's transportation sector. By European standards, France's development and use of renewable energy resources has been fairly limited. Market barriers thus far have stifled the use of renewables for electricity and heat production in France.
Furthermore, the low cost of nuclear energy has meant that there is little economic justification to develop alternative fuel sources. Finally, there has been some opposition to nuclear power in France by environmentalists, including public protests and demonstrations.