We need “no-regrets solutions” to address the climate transition

Decarbonising industry will be require to change equipment but also promote technical progress in clean alternatives while encouraging citizens and companies to reduce their consumption. Philippe Escande discusses the challenges in a column on the Le Monde website.

 

‘The climate transition is a transformation similar in magnitude to past industrial revolutions’

The ArcelorMittal steel plants in Dunkirk and Fos-sur-Mer, the Vicat, Lafarge and Calcia cement plants, the chemical plants in eastern France, the Yara and Borealis fertilizer manufacturers, the Arques glassworks, the Esso-ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies refineries…For industry officials, there was a lot to discuss on Thursday, April 6, with French Minister Delegate for Industry Roland Lescure.

The 50 sites concerned by the ministerial invitation account for 11% of France’s greenhouse gas emissions and 60% of those of all industries. For these companies, the government has promised to double public aid for decarbonization to €10 billion for the period 2022-2027 on the condition that manufacturers agree to double their environmental efforts.

The government is active on the heavy industry side, which is the most efficient approach because the sector is highly concentrated. For other sectors such as transport, housing and agriculture, it is a different matter. As economist and Sciences Po University professor Jean Pisani-Ferry points out, the climate transition is a transformation similar in magnitude to past industrial revolutions. In May, he is to submit a full report to the prime minister on the macroeconomic implications of such a transition. In short, the report is expected to say how much it will cost the community and how to find a way to finance it.

Giving value to environmental clean-up

Industrial equipment will have to be changed. This will require an additional investment of more than €70 billion per year, or 2.5% of gross domestic product in 2030. At the same time, it will also be necessary to stimulate technical progress in clean alternatives and to get citizens and companies to drastically reduce their consumption.

Patrick Artus, a senior economic advisor with French bank Natixis, estimates that, in order to meet the needs of France in 2050, it will be necessary to increase electricity production by 40% and, at the same time, reduce overall energy consumption by 25%. Nevertheless, as his colleague Jézabel Couppey-Soubeyran, a scientific advisor with the Veblen Institute, highlights, a number of unprofitable expenses to achieve this transition, particularly social ones, can only be supported by the state or specific aid funds.

A titanic undertaking with limited means. Unless this change brings with it uncalculated benefits in terms of well-being, health and sovereignty. For Patrice Geoffron, a professor at Paris-Dauphine University, the motivation should not only be to save the planet – France is too small to have such a big impact –but to give value to environmental clean-up. What he calls “no-regrets solutions.” We are waiting for them.

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4 thoughts on “We need “no-regrets solutions” to address the climate transition

  1. “Jézabel Couppey-Soubeyran, a scientific advisor with the Veblen Institute, highlights, a number of unprofitable expenses to achieve this transition, particularly social ones, can only be supported by the state or specific aid funds.” – hazarding a guess – despite the reality that wind & PV can deliver elec at a much much lower cost than nuclear – the French have nailed their nuclear colours to the mast & now wondering how to fund. Of course had they gone the renewable route – no funding would be required since, mostly, renewables are self funding. French exceptionalism?

  2. This article ends with the absolute statement: No-regrets solutions, we are waiting for them !
    Perhaps the author would like to consider this aphorism from the international Energy Agency: The most cost effective solutions come from the energy you don’t use.

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