France and climate

France and climate: scrambled messages and a wide gap

In the fight against climate change, France is in the red. It is not keeping its commitments, it is behind schedule on its objectives and, on top of that, it is giving lessons to others. In the meantime, the French are suffocating under the heat wave, which we are told is only just beginning. The inertia of the State in the face of the emergency and the announced shocks is perplexing. Is the government at this point subject to pressure from lobbies? Is it incompetent and unaware of the risks? Or does it think that the game is over and that there is nothing more that can be done to stop the infernal climate machine? Historians of the future, if there are any left, will undoubtedly be able to untangle the knots of this enigma.
AFrance is not on the right trajectory to meet its climate objectives and, moreover, it is not giving itself the means to do so. This judgment does not come from an NGO or a bunch of hyper-radical ecologists. It is signed by the High Climate Council (HCC), the body of independent experts that the government itself set up a few months ago.
The actions undertaken are still insufficient, even though all climate policies should be strengthened as of now. "The independent body noted in its first report, published on Tuesday 25 June in the midst of a heat wave that is expected to be repeated with the current disruption.
This fifty-page diagnosis, entitled "Acting in line with ambitions", was presented to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. The government has six months to respond to it before Parliament.

Unfulfilled commitments

The HCC, made up of eleven recognized experts, welcomes the country's decision to enshrine in law a carbon-neutral target for 2050 (implying that France should not emit more greenhouse gases than its "sinks" - soil, forests, etc. - can absorb). However, the law states that "France must not emit more greenhouse gases than its "sinks" - soil, forests, etc. - can absorb". at the current rate, France's commitments are unlikely to be met ", its president, climatologist Corinne Le Quéré, told AFP.
As long as action in response to climate change remains on the periphery of public policy, France will have no chance of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. For this to happen, measures to reduce emissions must become a national priority, at the heart of the decisions taken by public and private stakeholders. "The scientist, who has co-authored three IPCC reports, points out.
Over the last four years, France has not met its emission reduction targets, and while 2018 has been better, weather conditions have largely contributed to this, the report notes.
This is mainly due to transport (31% of emissions): demand is growing, electrification is lagging behind... But also buildings (19% of the total), a subject currently at the heart of lively discussions in Parliament on how to deal with "energy sieves".

Climate is not at the heart of public action

For the High Council, structural reforms are needed to put the climate "at the heart of public action". For example, to enshrine short-term emission reduction targets in law, to engrave them and send a signal to all stakeholders.
That each major project be compatible with the carbon neutrality objective, that the impact of the laws be assessed: " Who can tell us the impact on emissions of the law on mobility (LOM), or the Egalim law? ", says Ms. Le Quéré.
The report comes back to the need to take up and develop the carbon tax, the spark of the anger of the yellow jackets, towards greater transparency and fairness. And "... as waiting for its freeze creates a vacuum, the government should strengthen other instruments The climate scientist notes, "including standards or removing subsidies for fossil fuels, which have doubled in ten years. « It's good to have the goal of carbon neutrality, what's fundamentally missing is how we go about it. "says Laurence Tubiana, another HCC member.

Wide gap

These scathing criticisms of the High Council for the Climate are addressed to the French government and particularly to Emmanuel Macron. The President of the French Republic has in fact, from the first weeks of his election, posed as a defender of the planet. In December 2017, he convened the One Planet Summit In front of dozens of world leaders, Emmanuel Macron told the international community: "...the world is not a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world without a world". We are losing the battle against global warming and climate change. We're not moving fast enough and that's the tragedy. We all have to move because we're all going to have to answer to each other. »
Fine words that France repeats tirelessly on the international scene. But as far as implementation is concerned, decisions are dragging on, and commitments are not up to the challenge. Observing France's position in the European concert, Anne Bringault, Head of Energy Transition at the Climate Action Network, does not hesitate to say that France is the champion of the great divide: "France is the champion of the great divide. We have a permanent double talk from France. On the one hand, it is pushing for more ambitious objectives in Brussels in the long term. But in the shorter term, there is a problem of implementation: France is used to setting targets and not meeting them. ». So when France announces carbon neutrality for 2050 or a reduction of 40 % in fossil fuel consumption by 2030, nobody believes it anymore. The messages are blurred because the government is not taking concrete measures to achieve it. That is exactly what the HCC wanted to point out in its last report.

Validating inaction

An emblematic example of this pusillanimous climate policy is the nuclear issue and the related issue of renewable energies. The energy transition law currently under discussion backtracked on the previous one adopted under Holland, which planned to reduce the share of nuclear power to 50 % of energy consumption by 2025: the deadline has been pushed back to 2035.
"We have proposed a credible path to reduce the share of nuclear power to 50 % by 2035, with the massive development of renewables, particularly offshore wind power.", explained Prime Minister Édouard Philippe in his general policy statement on Wednesday 12 June before the National Assembly.
This calendar implies extending the life of the power plants, which are already at the end of their lifespan: their average age will reach nearly 50 years in 2035, whereas they are expected to last 40 years on average.
For the network " Sortir from nucléaire ", this decision is " valider from inaction ". «We would like to draw your attention to the consequences of this trajectory, both in terms of democracy and energy policy and of sûreté .", warns the NGO in a letter addressed to French MPs.

citizen rebellion

The French government in particular, but just about every government in the world should be wary of their stance on climate issues. Their inaction or hesitation is seen by all. Political opacity is increasingly being undermined by the hypervisibility of the new information media. Citizens see everything and know everything. Or almost. It is impossible to hide, for example, from the French government, that it is singularly embarrassed on the nuclear issue. It is difficult to explain to public opinion the infernal pressures of the energy industry, or to justify the sacrifice of renewable energies for a few more power plants.
France is far from being the only State in the world to give the impression of disarming or deserting in the face of the climate war. This situation is the detonator of a groundswell that is hitting several regions of the world, both in Europe and in the United States. The wave of citizen awakening, a protean collective force with only one objective: to weigh on States to force them to act. 
The climate walks are multiplying, collectives are flourishing everywhere, and the most heterogeneous initiatives are announced. When, in France, the "Affair of the Century" petition was launched to sue the State for climate inaction, the counters panicked. More than two million signatures in a few days; a record worthy of Guinness.
It has to be said that, in the face of climate change, legal action is multiplying around the world against insufficient measures to keep warming or pollution under control.

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READ UP : Climate: citizens enter rebellion

The government has little time to face these challenges and respond to criticism. In a press release issued Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, while reiterating that the fight against climate change is " a government priority ", recognizes that action must " be amplified in view of the urgency ». Recalling that Mrs Le Quéré will be heard at the beginning of July at the next Ecological Defence Council, he assured that the government " will take this opportunity to present its initial responses and the action it intends to take on the High Council's recommendations, some of which will be taken into account during the parliamentary consideration of the energy and climate bill ». It's getting hot...
With AFP, Euractiv

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