Au cours de l’année 2012, l’ADEME a mobilisé ses services techniques et économiques dans le cadre d’une réflexion prospective « Visions 2030-2050 ». Deux scénarios énergétiques et climatiques volontaristes ont été construits à ces deux horizons afin d’identifier des pistes d’action pour la transition énergétique de la France. Le scénario à l’horizon 2030 est un scénario exploratoire tendanciel « volontariste ». Il aboutit à une réduction de 20 % de la consommation d’énergie finale à cet horizon (par ...
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Alors que la communauté internationale se réunit à Doha, au Qatar, pour lancer la deuxième phase du protocole de Kyoto, trois rapports du PNUE (Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement), de la Banque mondiale et de l’OMM (Organisation météorologique mondiale) confirment la dégradation rapide de la situation climatique mondiale. Selon le PNUE, les émissions mondiales de gaz à effet de serre (GES) ont augmenté de 20 % depuis 2000 . Elles sont désormais supérieures de 14 % au niveau qu ...
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In an article published in these pages in 2011 (no. 373), Patrick Criqui presented a series of scenarios on possible energy and climate trends, taking note of the agreement on climate change signed in late 2009 at the Copenhagen Conference. He pointed out that a paradigm shift was on the cards, which would mean less use of the top-down approach –with national objectives set as a function of international objectives formulated at major conferences– and greater implementation of a bottom-up logic based on national policies put in place in the energy field and as part of the battle against global warming. On the basis of this latter logic, the authors were able to elaborate scenarios at a world level. A few days before the publication of that article, the Fukushima accident occurred in Japan, lending fresh impetus to the energy debate in most of the countries using nuclear power. Does that event, combined with the persistence of the debt crisis, the increased extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons (shale oil and gas) and the fact that international negotiations on climate change (Durban) have merely marked time, modify the projected scenarios –and, if so, to what extent?
Patrick Criqui, Silvana Mima, Pierre-Olivier Peytral and Jean-Christophe Simon consider this question in detail here. They begin by examining the impact of these recent events and developments on the current energy and climate situation. Then, after reminding us of the four world energy scenarios (to a time-horizon of 2030-2050) that were developed in 2009 (together with two “discontinuity scenarios”), they propose an updating that takes account of the perceived consequences of the change of context, stressing two crucial scenarios in particular: the probable (leading to warming in the order of 4°C) and the desirable (limiting warming to 2°C). Lastly, they propose various levers aimed at “making the desirable trajectory possible” (technological agreements, economic instruments, national emission trajectories), in the knowledge that, even if this is achieved, human societies cannot escape having substantially to lower their greenhouse gas emissions in the medium to long term.
Les crises économiques entraînent-elles systématiquement une baisse des émissions de CO2 ? Alors qu’il serait tentant de répondre positivement à cette question, un chercheur américain, Richard York, invite au contraire à la prudence : selon lui, si une diminution peut en effet s’observer, elle serait cependant limitée. Dans un article publié dans la revue Nature, il a comparé l’évolution du PIB (produit intérieur brut) par habitant et celles des émissions de CO2 pour plus de 150 pays dont ces ...
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Organisation indépendante visant à promouvoir, évaluer et améliorer l’aide humanitaire, DARA assure aussi un suivi de l’impact du changement climatique sur les sociétés humaines, au travers notamment du Climate Vulnerable Forum, partenariat international lancé en 2009 pour évaluer et limiter les impacts du changement climatique. C’est dans ce cadre qu’a été publiée une deuxième édition de leur Climate Vulnerability Monitor, proposant un « froid calcul » des conséquences du réchauffement climatique et de l’économie « carbonée ». Basé sur ...
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Le Grenelle de l’environnement a fixé des objectifs à horizon 2020, notamment dans le domaine énergie-climat. La France en est encore loin : c’est ce que montre le bilan intermédiaire publié par le ministère de l’Écologie en préparation à la conférence environnementale de septembre 2012. En accord avec les objectifs européens de division par 4 des émissions de GES à l’horizon 2050 par rapport à leur niveau de 1990, la France s’est ainsi engagée à atteindre ...
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In the current context of economic and financial crisis, the attention of citizens in France, as in many other European countries, is focussed above all on economic and social questions (purchasing power, employment, housing etc.). This means that environmental considerations are increasingly downplayed, as are energy issues —though to a lesser extent, given their economic impact. However, the questions of future energy prospects and combating climate change are just as pressing now as they have ever been. Some argue that they might even serve as levers to restart economic growth. It is a very good time, then, for Jacques Lesourne to be summarizing the situation on energy and climate that prevails within the EU.
How is European policy with regard to energy and global warming organized (the overall architecture, the objectives, the legal instruments etc.)? What are the major events that have occurred in the last five years that have impacted significantly on these fields? Has European policy borne fruit where energy and the climate are concerned? This article strives to provide answers to all these questions, while stressing the degree to which the increasing number of decisions taken at member-state level without Europe-wide consultation is leading to harmful incoherence and is casting doubt on the EU’s capacity to remain a leader in the worldwide struggle against global warming. And this leads to other questions which are crucial for the future, regarding the best way of organizing this European energy policy at the national, EU or international level, while not failing to pay attention to the main parties concerned: namely, European consumers.
Intitulée Une planète en partage : faire avancer les progrès du développement humain pour faire face au changement climatique, l’édition 2012 du Rapport sur le développement humain en Asie-Pacifique se donne pour objectif « de revitaliser le dialogue sur le changement climatique en mettant en évidence les préoccupations des populations dans la perspective de la Conférence des Nations unies sur le développement durable (Rio + 20) » qui a eu lieu au Brésil (20-22 juin 2012). L’Asie-Pacifique concentre les zones les plus ...
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In issue 380 of Futuribles in December 2011, Antonin Pottier analysed in detail the workings of what is today termed “climate scepticism” – namely the propensity of certain individuals to contest the reality of climate change on the basis of pseudo-scientific arguments. He emphasized particularly that what fuels the debate on climate change is, largely, the degree of uncertainty inherent in the consequences to be anticipated from observation of the facts, not the description of the facts itself. In his view, the main aim of climate sceptics is to block the political measures for combating climate change. However, since they do not admit to this political posture, they choose instead to deny the scientific reality.
This month, Futuribles complements this socio-psychological analysis of climate-sceptical discourse with an – in this case, wholly scientific – analysis of what we know (or do not know) about climate change on our planet. Pierre Morel gives a detailed account of the state of our knowledge in the climate field and what we are able to predict in the medium/long-term. After reminding us of the influence of atmospheric meteorological processes on the climate, he specifies the extent of global warming observed since 1850 and the main origin of that warming, as revealed by the current state of knowledge: the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases. He then describes the changes in meteorological regimes (showing also the limits of climate simulation models), the modifications of hydrological regimes, and also the prospects for rises in sea levels. He also specifies the mechanisms that may potentially amplify all these phenomena and the climate disasters that might ensue. Lastly, he shows what are the scientific data that cannot be disregarded, the consequences of which are now inescapable (melting of the ice-caps, rises in sea level etc.), the only remaining uncertainty in this connection being the date at which these things will happen. “In this perspective,” Morel concludes, “the continuation of our model of civilization comes at the cost of a fundamental revision of the current paradigm of economic and demographic growth.”
Continuing the series of contributions on the Mediterranean basin, begun in Futuribles in 2011, this article by Yvette Veyret reminds us of the extent to which, despite the attractive image traditionally associated with the region, it is subject to various kinds of risks and not always well prepared to deal with them. First, the geological risks – earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and landslides – are far from negligible, as various natural disasters that have occurred in the past have shown. Yvette Veyret reminds us of the nature, potential intensity and very serious consequences which might ensue in a region that is distinctly more densely populated and urbanized today than it was only a few decades ago. Second, the region remains highly exposed to climatic risks, beginning with large-scale flooding in autumn, which may ravage entire villages within a few hours. The spectacular forest fires we see each year in the south of France, in Corsica or in Greece complete the picture.
The Mediterranean region is one of the areas most exposed to natural risks, but these thankfully manifest themselves on a generally more moderate scale than elsewhere. Nevertheless, as this article shows, the actions that could reduce the scope of such risks through prevention, protection and the informing of the public remain inadequate or ill-understood, or clash with other interests and are unable decisively to reduce the region’s vulnerability. Lastly, as is often the case, it is the poorest groups that are the most exposed and natural dangers serve, in this regard, as indicators of social and spatial inequalities.
By the time this issue of Futuribles comes out, the now traditional international conference on climate change, planned for 28 November–9 December 2011, will have begun in Durban where the different nations will again attempt to agree to a series of measures aimed at curbing the warming of our planet. It is far from certain they will succeed in doing so, despite a diagnosis – recognizing global warming and its anthropogenic origins – that is shared almost unanimously by the scientific community. We say “almost” since a few scattered individuals – the so-called “climate sceptics” – still dispute the fact that climate change is happening. Futuribles has already (in March 2005) devoted a long “Forum” section to one of the emblematic figures of this tendency, Bjørn Lomborg. We return to the theme today by way of the analysis of Antonin Pottier, who examines the socio-psychological mechanisms underlying the climate-sceptical position.
Pottier distinguishes between two elements in the debate on climate change: a “diagnostic” component, including the observation of the warming of the planet, its causes (the emission of greenhouse gases) and its possible consequences (a scenario tending towards large-scale climatic upheavals), and a “prescriptive” part which, taking account of the diagnosis, proposes political measures and relates not to scientific observations but to a moral evaluation of the situation. After reminding us of what “fuels” the debate (the element of uncertainty which, Pottier argues, can relate only to the vision of the likely future that emerges from the observation of the facts, not to the description of the facts observed), he shows us that climate-sceptical arguments arise out of a confusion between diagnosis and prescription: it is because they reject the need for, or the content of, climate policies that they come to deny the scientific reality of climate change, shifting the ground of the debate and veering deeper into error. This posture is all the more harmful for being widely echoed in the media, tending to add a touch more confusion to the information available to the public: “Citizens’ perceptions of contemporary issues are skewed in favour of those interests that would be seriously impacted by a campaign against greenhouse emissions.”
There have been an increasing number of foresight exercises in the field of energy and global warming in recent years, as we have seen from the articles devoted to these questions by Futuribles in 2011 (both in this special issue and in the April number). It is certainly the case that the goals for greenhouse-gas emission reduction are rather ambitious, particularly in France, it being the aim of the 2005 French framework law on energy to reduce carbon gas discharges by a factor of four.
Among these scenarios, the Négatep scenario developed by Claude Acket and Pierre Bacher from the “Sauvons le climat” [Let’s save the climate] Association proposes to achieve this (“factor 4”) goal in France by 2050 by reducing fossil fuel use by 75% and replacing this as quickly as possible with electricity produced from non-carbon-gas-emitting sources – chiefly, nuclear power and renewables. The authors lay out their goals here, backed up by figures, comparing these with the reference scenario. They also show the path that must be followed to arrive at these goals, particularly in the residential and tertiary sectors, and in transport and industry (through control of needs and recourse to alternative energy sources).
They close by comparing the Négatep scenario with two other more recent scenarios aimed also at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, on the one hand in Europe, and on the other in Germany. The comparison confirms that they were right to rely on electricity as a substitute for oil, but gives them cause for concern in respect of the consequences (formidable in their view) that the replacement of nuclear power and coal energy by intermittent renewable energies might have in Europe, both with regard to costs and to the effects on the power network.
Chiming in with the central theme of this summer issue, in this article Jean-François Drevet provides a presentation of the main aims of EU policy in the field of energy. After reminding us that there is, strictly speaking, no common energy policy in Europe, he outlines the four major challenges confronting the Union in this area: energy savings, the production of renewable energy (with the declared aim of covering 20% of final consumption from renewable sources by 2020), the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (for which the declared targets are particularly ambitious) and, lastly, problems of energy security (particularly, the question of energy supplies to those countries most dependent on external provision). In all these fields it is, once again, the strength of a united community that can make the difference, though this presents another substantial challenge, given the increasing distrust of consumers, who tend to ascribe recent energy price increases to market liberalization brought about in recent years under the aegis of the EU.
The years go by and international conferences come and go, with their quota of cries of alarm and calls to action to counter climate change. But in reality few large-scale programmes have been launched anywhere in the world involving concrete action to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.
As one who has campaigned for many years for policies of energy consumption control, Benjamin Dessus shows here that the energy challenge is as great as it has ever been in a world of expanding populations in which most peoples aspire to reach the developmental level of the northern countries, despite the fact that our climate probably cannot support such a state of affairs. He argues here against a certain number of common suppositions, such as the idea of focussing exclusively on CO2 in the fight against global warming, the need for a continuous economic growth on the order of 2% per annum or excessive faith in market mechanisms to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.
He also stresses the ambiguities of so-called “green” growth and compares different energy conservancy scenarios. In this way, he shows that, against a relatively dominant line of reasoning based largely on (at times near-utopian) technological solutions and the continuation of sustained economic growth, there are more effective paths based on individual/collective energy sobriety and a serious slowdown of economic growth in the most developed countries, if not indeed a total halt to that growth (though these are more ambitious in that they require a revolution in the behaviour of the most affluent peoples). He concludes by proposing some courses of action for implementing such a programme in a country like France, showing the extent to which modern modes of life are going to have to change and how urgent it now is to debate these matters, if such change is to be achieved without – excessive – pain.
Climate change and its potentially serious consequences for our planet first appeared on the agenda of major international negotiations at the Rio Summit in 1992. Arduous negotiation ensued, culminating in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which set quantified targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 2012. Since then, the configuration of the highly complex negotiations (on account of the large number of participants and disparity of economic situations) has changed a great deal, as could be seen at the Copenhagen conference of December 2009 and, more recently, the agreement struck at Cancún in late 2010.
Anaïs Delbosc and Christian de Perthuis, close observers of climate-related economic issues, sum up the state of international climate negotiation in this article. Where have we got to? How have the discussions developed? What are the points of agreement and disagreement? What economic mechanisms have been put in place and so on? After reviewing the history, Delbosc and de Perthuis outline the Cancún agreement, before looking in more detail at a “variable geometry system of commitment”. They show, in particular, how difficult it is to compare the commitments made by the various parties to the negotiations. However, they do stress that the developed countries are, in general, falling short of the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They go on to formulate a number of proposals designed to take the commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions further, for example by strengthening and unifying the system of measurement and verification of how the various countries are meeting the targets to which they have committed themselves, while nonetheless taking account of their varying situations. Lastly, they propose a more efficient use of the various existing economic instruments, and go on to remind us of the weaknesses that were not resolved by the Cancún agreement, which the Durban Conference, scheduled for late 2011, will have to strive to overcome.
It was five years ago, in January 2006, that Futuribles devoted a major special issue (no. 315) to energy prospects and the greenhouse effect. That was already a time of great concern about this question and several articles offered analyses of the gloomy prospects for the development of energy resources and the issues around climate change. Among these, an article by Jean Laherrère outlined the prospects for oil resources, showing the extent to which information in this area was disparate, unreliable and even questionable, being often highly political. As one of the more pessimistic writers on the question, Laherrère reminded us of the imminence of “peak oil” (the prelude to a decline in global oil production) and the need to re-think our styles of consumption to adapt to a new age in which, as energy becomes scarcer, it will be increasingly expensive.
Five years later, Jean Laherrère returns to the columns of Futuribles on the occasion of a new special issue on energy and the climate, to update us on the global prospects for oil and gas production. He begins by recalling how politically slanted and unreliable information in this area can be, depending on its source, the units of measurement employed etc. He stresses, too, that in the view of many experts peak oil was reached in 2006 and the situation is currently plateauing, just ahead of a decline in oil production (gradual or sudden, depending on whether measures of economic constraint are implemented). For its part, gas production should peak around 2025-2030. Jean Laherrère specifies what reserves remain, how these are currently exploited and marketed, and the prospects that ensue in the longer term (he also shows how wrong gas-price forecasts have been in the past).
As he stresses, in conclusion, with both oil and gas we must be aware that the world does not have infinite resources and, since the alternatives do not allow us, at the moment, to make up for future energy-resource shortages, it is for individuals to prepare themselves for entering the era of energy sobriety.
Following on from his contribution to the special number “Energy Prospects and Greenhouse Effect” (Futuribles 315, January 2006), which gave an account of the main foresight scenarios played out on the stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions, Patrick Criqui (with Constantin Ilasca) shows here how scenarios in this area have evolved since 2007. Though the long-favoured approach consisted in starting out from global targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, set at international conferences, and building national policy scenarios around them (the so-called “top-down” approach), the rapid economic growth of the emerging countries (particularly China) and the return of the USA to international climate change negotiations have altered the state of play. Since the Copenhagen Agreement of late 2009, it would seem, then, more logical, argue Patrick Criqui and Constantin Ilasca, to start from policies and targets set out at the national level in developing scenarios on global climate change (the so-called “bottom-up” approach).
Criqui and Ilasca lay out this paradigm change in detail. For example, they present the forward view of greenhouse gas emissions as it looked before Copenhagen, based mainly on assessments of the costs associated with the mitigation policies required to limit climate warming. They then analyse various so-called “post-carbon” transitional scenarios (which are supposed to sound the death-knell of the era of massive CO2 emissions), combining climate policy, energy sustainability and modes of economic development. Lastly, they show the turnabout that has been developing since the Copenhagen Agreement and the now manifest tension between ambitious global objectives (limiting global warming to 2°C up to 2100) and national realities leading to more limited commitments (particularly in the emerging economies) – a new context which might give rise to new families of scenarios, incorporating this sacrificing of global well-being on the altar of (sadly, less sustainable) national prosperity.
For several years now, global warming has occupied a leading place in the list of major challenges humanity has to confront and is, therefore, very logically the focus of regular international negotiations aimed at contributing to a solution. For the moment, however, the only international political responses envisaged for curbing climate change attack the identified cause of the problem – greenhouse gas emissions – with the intention of reducing the volume of those emissions in the shortest possible time-frame.
However, as Baptiste Marsollat shows here, other, more technological responses exist which consist not in working on greenhouse gas emissions, but either in capturing/imprisoning these gases or, more ambitiously, in modifying solar radiation to reduce ongoing climate warming. This would mean applying the techniques of climate engineering or geo-engineering. Such a prospect has generated great controversy, but it cannot, for all that, be ignored indefinitely in the thinking on combating global warming.
This article reviews the subject of climate engineering (what is it and to what extent can we do it?) and the role it might play in the battle against climate change. It shows how this – long-tabooed – option is now finding a place within the most official circles in the Anglo-Saxon world. Without concealing the concerns to which it may, more or less justifiably, give rise, Marsollat shows that, faced with a dramatic choice, we might opt in the end for climate engineering as a way to fight global warming. And from a more proactive perspective, he also suggests we should reflect on how appropriate it might be to use it for shaping the planet’s climate and, in that way, for meeting a number of other major challenges.
La lutte contre le réchauffement climatique s’est jusqu’à présent largement concentrée sur les émissions de dioxyde de carbone (CO2). Mais, selon un rapport du Programme des Nations unies pour l’environnement (PNUE) , d’autres polluants, le noir de carbone et l’ozone troposphérique, devraient également être pris en compte.
Les activités humaines sont aujourd’hui largement rendues responsables du phénomène du réchauffement climatique mondial et des dérèglements météorologiques qu’il provoque. Mais l’homme peut-il aussi modifier le climat à sa guise, pour lutter contre des sécheresses ou éviter des intempéries ? La technique de l’ensemencement des nuages, permettant de provoquer ou d’empêcher des précipitations, suscite de plus en plus d’intérêt dans le monde, notamment en Chine.
Dans ce rapport du GIEC, publié en mai 2011, 120 chercheurs ont comparé 164 scénarios de développement des énergies renouvelables (EnR) dans le monde à l’horizon 2050. En 2008, environ 13 % de l’offre énergétique mondiale était assurée par cinq énergies renouvelables : la biomasse (10 %), l’hydraulique (2,3 %), l’éolien (0,2 %), le solaire et la géothermie (0,1 % chacun). En excluant les usages traditionnels des EnR (biomasse pour la cuisson, le chauffage...), leur part n’est cependant ...
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