French foreign policy has, historically, been motivated by aspirations to world power status. In the contemporary period, foreign policy has also been supported by economic interests and environmental desiderata. Energy crises led France to rely massively on nuclear power, with consequences for foreign trade and, latterly, climate protection. To help oﬀset the oil price hikes of the 1970s, France exported nuclear technology to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. At home, nuclear-sourced electricity led to major reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. This outcome molded the French approach to climate protection, which accords a central role to nuclear power. In the 2000s, France has sought to revive the nuclear sector by again promoting reactor sales internationally. Thus France’s approach to energy and climate policy has been characterized by pragmatism and path-dependency. This chapter will develop these observations, showing how andwhy national
interests related to energy, the economy and the environment co-evolved, while identifying how preferences and norms arose from particular historical opportunities and constraints. It argues that energy security and climate protection have become the conjoined drivers of French environmental foreign policy. Its ﬁrst part reviews the crossover of nuclear technologies from the military to the civil spheres, concentrating on impacts at the commercial and economic levels. Its second part shows how nuclear power was incorporated into a distinctive climate policy template, which France has attempted to “upload” to EU and international levels, while the third reviews the claimed renaissance of nuclear power. The conclusion reﬂects on the risks and responsibilities associated with the promotion of nuclear energy worldwide.