Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement
Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
If there is one sector in which the state of play has changed radically over a few decades, it is the energy sector. It has been affected simultaneously by the prospect that the main fossil fuels will become exhausted, by the impact on our planet’s climate of the consumption of this fossil energy (implying increased recourse to renewable sources) and by the rapid economic development of large nations consuming increasing quantities of energy. Energy-related policies (particularly economic and technological policies) are, in fact, being developed in an increasingly complex and international context, which is, at times, very difficult to grasp.
Fortunately, two specialists in energy matters, Jean-Pierre Hansen and Jacques Percebois, have published a very comprehensive survey of this new economic and political state of play in the energy field: Énergie. Économie et politiques [Energy: Economics and Policies] (Brussels: De Boeck, 2010). It clearly isn’t possible here to go into all the questions they confront, but in this review Jacques Lesourne, who has read the book for Futuribles, clearly demonstrates its importance and presents the reader with the main facets of the work that make it a reference tool for all involved in this sector, including the most highly specialized.
Le peak oil a été atteint dès 2006, affirme Jean Laherrère dans ce numéro : la production de pétrole conventionnel a atteint un plafond, celle-ci excluant les pétroles issus de l’Arctique, l’offshore profond, le pétrole lourd et extralourd, et les autres sources qui ne pourraient fournir qu’un complément marginal d’énergie. Le pic de production du gaz risque de suivre aux alentours de 2025-2030. Ainsi les deux pics sont-ils intervenus plus tôt que prévu, préludes à un déclin ...
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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.
La possibilité d’exploiter le gaz de schiste, comme le font déjà les États-Unis, a suscité un engouement pour cette ressource énergétique ainsi qu’une floraison de rapports pour en évaluer les perspectives. Un rapport britannique de Chatham House (le Royal Institute of international Affairs) étudie la « révolution gazière » en cours aux États-Unis, mais d’autres études soulignent que cette énergie ne sera pas forcément aussi facile à exploiter dans d’autres pays, et que son exploitation a des impacts ...
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Les crises qui secouent l’Afrique du Nord depuis plusieurs mois ne sont pas uniquement politiques : elles sont aussi en partie liées à des problèmes alimentaires. En effet, cette région, constituée du Maroc, de l’Algérie, de la Tunisie, de la Libye et de l’Égypte est particulièrement exposée aux risques alimentaires.Or, la hausse des prix alimentaires observée en 2008 doit être considérée comme la première manifestation d’une tendance de long terme. Ainsi, en février 2011, l’indice ...
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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.
Focus : The « Shale Gas Revolution » : Hype and Reality, A Chatham House Report, de STEVENS Paul Prospective agriculture énergie 2030, de J. Vert et F. Portet Tableau de bord des pays d’Europe centrale et orientale 2010, du CERI Global Risks 2011, du WEF Environnement Towards a Green Economy, du PNUE Territoires World and European Sustainable Cities, de la Commission européenne Urban World, du MGI Démographie Pensions at a Glance 2011, de l’OCDE « 10 Ideas that Will Change the World ...
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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.
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.
Depuis le 25 octobre 2010, le quart nord-est de la Chine est en proie à une sécheresse qui menace la production de blé du pays. Pékin a donc décidé de mettre en place un coûteux système d’irrigation qui risque de menacer l’écosystème. Ces mesures ne sont pas une première pour le deuxième producteur de blé de la planète, mais elles risquent à terme de menacer le rendement agricole, alors que la demande de produits alimentaires ne cesse d ...
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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.
Agricultural markets have for some years been affected by large fluctuations, making the prices of agricultural commodities highly volatile. The most recent vivid example of this was the marked price rise that occurred in 2008. In fact, land (and its exploitation) is tending to rank high once again among the list of safe investments and more and more foreign investors are taking a position in the agricultural sector in developing countries. What is the scope of – and what is at stake in – these transfers of agricultural assets?
Dominique Auverlot and Blandine Barreau, who coordinated a recent report on this question, describe the reality of this rush for agricultural land and the nature of the main investments that characterize it. Without denying the dangers inherent in this intervention of foreign investors in developing countries – which, as many see it, very much need their agricultural produce to feed their own populations – they show how it may also offer opportunities and play an important role in global food security. Lastly, they formulate a series of recommendations, aimed mainly at France and the European Union, for keeping these agricultural investments genuinely “responsible” and ensuring that they truly respect both the environment and the (economic, social, land etc.) rights of local populations, arguing also that this same orientation should be incorporated into the various international rules currently being developed in this area.
In late 2010, Virginie Raisson published 2033, atlas des futurs du monde (Paris: Robert Laffont, 2010), a richly illustrated work which Pierre Bonnaure discussed in the Bibliography section of Futuribles last February. In that book, she shows the extent of the challenges facing our planet and the degree to which foresight studies have an essential role to play in interpreting them and offering various scenarios capable of providing positive solutions to problems that may at times seem insoluble. By way of some original, dynamic graphic features, this Atlas lays before us both the present, with all that it portends for future generations, and the future, with all the potential scenarios that may be possible, if only we all decide genuinely to act on them right now.
In this article Virginie Raisson outlines the motivations that led her to produce this original exercise in foresight studies and the choices she made in illustrating it graphically. In particular she shows, with this work – though this perhaps needs no repeating in our columns – that humanity’s future is not set in stone and that we all still have sufficient resources, material and intellectual, to shift it in the most desirable direction.
La République démocratie populaire lao, l’un des derniers États communistes, s’ouvre progressivement à l’économie de marché. À Vientiane, la capitale, dans le nouveau bâtiment qui accueille le Laos Securities Exchange (LSE), la première séance de transactions s’est tenue le 11 janvier 2011. Les autorités sont pressées d’attirer les capitaux étrangers, mais les investissements se concentrent dans le secteur minier ou celui de l’hydroélectricité. De nombreux experts du développement mettent en garde contre les conséquences ...
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Le rapport annuel de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie (AIE) sur les perspectives de la consommation d’énergie primaire dessine un avenir énergétique de la planète à l’horizon 2035 à l’aide de trois scénarios.
Au Brésil, dans l’État de Rio-de-Janeiro, le super-port d’Açu est encore en chantier. Il devrait entrer en activité en 2012 et devenir l’un des plus grands ports du monde. D’ores et déjà surnommée l’autoroute brésilienne vers la Chine, le complexe industrialo-portuaire doit essentiellement faciliter l’exportation des ressources minières et des hydrocarbures dont la Chine a besoin pour soutenir sa croissance. Les investissements chinois permettent en retour au Brésil, nouveau géant pétrolier, de financer la ...
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At the request of the French ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, a study was carried out in 2009 by Laurence Roudart on the current and future availability of cultivable land. The three databases she analysed indicates that the land area utilisable for rain-fed cultivation (without need of irrigation) that is not yet being farmed is, globally, very extensive – particularly in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, this particular resource seems to be scarce or even to have been exhausted in the Middle East and Asia. Global warming would probably lead to a – small – increase in cultivable land, but would reduce the cultivable areas available in developing countries, particularly in South and South-East Asia, where such land is already a scarce resource.
The world’s cultivable areas seem greatly to exceed what is necessary to guarantee humanity’s food security. This conclusion remains true even if we assume relatively low growth in agricultural yields along the lines of a “sustainable, doubly green revolution” and exclude from cultivation all the currently protected zones and the forests. It is true even if we take into account the plausible effects of global warming. However, the sustainable exploitation of cultivable land resources requires appropriate public policies on agricultural prices, on access to land, and on research-and-development targeted at the needs and potential of poor producers.
Après trois mois d’exploitation, la liaison de fret maritime reliant Nantes (port de Saint-Nazaire) à Girons (Espagne) affiche des résultats prometteurs. Les autoroutes de la mer (transports de camions par voie maritime), dont le développement a été stimulé par les Grenelle de l’Environnement et de la Mer, connaissent toutefois du retard dans leur mise en oeuvre, malgré les nombreux projets en cours.
Depuis 2010, ERDF (Électricité réseau distribution France) expérimente dans des foyers français l’utilisation de compteurs électriques dits intelligents, car ils faciliteraient le travail du distributeur d’électricité, et permettraient aux usagers de mieux contrôler leur consommation. Pourtant, ces boîtiers suscitent déjà de nombreux débats liés à leur coût, à leur efficacité et à leur sécurité.
Virginie Raisson est venue présenter l’ouvrage 2033. Atlas des futurs du monde, qu’elle a qualifié de « premier essai cartographique de prospective globale », et la démarche, essentiellement pédagogique, qui a présidé à sa conception. Cet atlas est le premier produit issu du programme de recherche « Les futurs du monde » lancé par le Lépac en 2009.
La montée en puissance des énergies renouvelables dans la production d’énergie est une hypothèse centrale des scénarios énergétiques et en particulier ceux de l’AIE. Quelle serait alors la place de l’énergie solaire ? C’est à cette question que répond ce rapport de l’AIE, qui dresse un tableau complet des potentialités de l’énergie solaire dans la perspective d’une variante de son scénario Blue Map, proposé en 2010 : une très forte composante d’énergies renouvelables limitant ...
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Si le recyclage des métaux ne se développe à l’avenir, un certain nombre de matières premières fossiles essentielles à l’économie mondiale pourraient devenir rares, voire disparaître, prévient le PNUE dans ce rapport. Quatre types de matières premières sont étudiés : les minerais, les minéraux, les combustibles fossiles (pétrole, charbon, gaz naturel) et la biomasse. Alors que le taux de recyclage du fer, de l’acier, du cuivre et de l’aluminium atteint 25 % à 75 % selon les pays, d ...
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As we saw in the previous article by Pierre Bonnaure, though it has long been decried for the dangers inherent in its production structures and the very long-lived waste that it generates, nuclear power may yet recover its credibility, particularly in France. However, on close examination, we see that the nuclear industry is beset by a number of unresolved questions, beginning with the dismantling of installations that have become obsolete or are set to become so.
Nuclear power took off after the Second World War, but several generations of technology have been developed since then, and most currently functioning power-stations – mainly second-generation installations – are theoretically nearing the end of their useful lives, at least in terms of what was said when they were being built. The problem therefore arises of their dismantling and the clean-up of the sites on which they were built, a thorny question on which Pierre Bonnaure casts light in this article (prospects, strategies, financing, management of waste etc.). Unfortunately, it emerges that in France nothing has really been resolved, that public debate on the matter is decidedly limited and that investment (both financial investment and research) is not commensurate with the needs of a sector which is, after all, the source of three quarters of national electricity production.
Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.