energy transition

Civil society has its say on French energy choices

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As a result of the Energy Transition Act of 2015, the Multi-annual energy programming (PPE) sets every five years the energy consumption and production targets that France has set itself for the next 5 to 10 years. For the next period, to 2023 and 2028, to be adopted before the end of 2018, the government has opened a forum for discussion to debate the "enormous challenges of the energy transition process for the country's future". 
 
Che debate organized by the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) begins this March 19, 2018. Until 30 June, it will gather hundreds of contributions and position papers which will be synthesized. See the terms and conditions of participation.
A call to debate differently - Editorial
 
During the previous energy consultation, the procedure was as follows: the State had submitted a document to the public with no real alternative, it had organised the staging itself, and had set the themes, rules, rhythms and modalities of the discussion. At the end, it had written the synthesis and even proposed the conclusions. We could thank him or vilify him, but he remained at the centre of everything.
It has to be said that in the field of energy, as in many others, society no longer functions in this way: today, a multiplicity of actors with diverse interests interact and manufacture, in alliance or in tension, long-term energy compromises.
New balances are constantly being negotiated between strong legacies and fundamental changes on new scales. From now on, the consumer citizen, even if largely captive to the existing offer, has more and more room to choose his own way.
In other words, it is not enough for the State or any one of the actors, however powerful, to write a programme based on well-constructed scenarios for everything to work as planned. The transition from point A to point B is negotiated between multiple stakeholders. In a context of high uncertainty, stakeholders need a minimum of stability and visibility. Short, or circumstantial, and therefore ephemeral, majorities are no longer sufficient to decide for the long term.
This gives particular meaning to the rather novel debate we are entering into, which is being organised for the first time, no longer on a particular project but on a programme.
It is an authority independent of pressure groups and lobbies that proposes the procedure and guarantees it. Which, after wide consultation with each other and beyond the ministerial document ("the project owner's document"), has proposed issues and areas for debate.
It has defined modalities of expression so that everyone feels respected and taken into account. The discussion will not be conducted only between one actor and all the others. It is open between all components of society and will confront the different energy models they may wish for the future.
Do we want to achieve the global objectives of reducing our ecological footprint, of which climate is obviously the most important element, but so is biodiversity and the reduction of all risks? Do we want to reduce our energy consumption by saving energy and increasing energy efficiency to maintain a good level of comfort?
Do we want to replace the fossils with a truly plural bouquet or a monocoloured bouquet? Do we want in the electrical mix that each source of production finds its place? In a world of increasing competition, can we abstract so easily from the national energy utility model?
Last but not least, since the EPP is to be drafted this year, where should we start? What concrete options should we take between now and 2023 and 2028 and what options should we not take, be it fuel, heat, mobility, building, gas, nuclear or renewables?
The State did not choose to submit a turnkey EPP text for debate. Some, considering that the citizens will be freer to express their views, will be delighted. Others will regret that the government, caught up in internal debates which are, incidentally, legitimate and have not yet made up its mind, has not provided enough information to enable an opinion to be formed.
In any case, everything is in place to ensure that confrontations of ideas are conducted in a thorough manner. The debate that opens on 19 March will be neither blurred, strange nor impossible to find.
With your participation, the commission will create the conditions for the strategy of the main actors to be made explicit and for you to be able to make an informed judgement.
On all subjects without exception, it will bring to decision-makers the voices of those who have taken the patience to express their views and listen to those of others.
Jacques Archimbaud, Chairman of the Commission
 
The CLER - Network for Energy Transition will participate as a national network of local actors who have been working in the field for 35 years in favour of renewable energies, energy savings and the fight against fuel poverty. (1).
According to Marie-Laure LAMY and Sandrine BURESI, co-presidents of the CLER - Energy Transition Network : "For this national debate to be successful, the government must be truly ready to hear the voice of civil society. These local actors - local authorities, associations, businesses but also citizens - will tell the story of the difficulties they encounter in implementing energy/climate planning on their territory, and in carrying out concrete projects in favour of the energy transition. To remove these barriers, they need a regulatory framework that encourages them, not hinders them. These pioneers are the bearers of relevant solutions: their practices and experiences are replicable. The State must urgently put in place the conditions for their generalisation to become a reality. »
 
This national debate must not overshadow the crucial issue of the closure of French nuclear power plants. The French have a say in defining their energy system: "The controversy surrounding the closure of nuclear reactors beyond Fessenheim is now polarising the debate. It must be resolved in compliance with the law and commitments, doing everything possible to ensure that the objective of 50 % of the electricity mix planned for 2025 is achieved as quickly as possible. But it must not, above all, overshadow the need (less publicised but essential) to take massive action on all other fronts. »
 
(1) The CLER makes proposals for a territorial, inclusive and solidarity-based energy transition. In particular, it advocates the following actions:
 

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