Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement
Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
As a cradle of civilizations, the Mediterranean region has always been a source of fascination and played a major role in Europe commercially, culturally and geopolitically. Moreover, the countries of the southern and eastern rims of the Mediterranean are today seeing profound social and political upheavals that are likely also to affect the northern rim, making their futures uncertain, to say the least. In such a context, it becomes essential to have solid foresight analyses of the region.
Long before the Arab revolutions of spring 2011 began, the European Commission had launched a wide-ranging foresight exercise on the Mediterranean region up to the year 2030, entitled EuroMed-2030. This was driven by a group of 20 international experts and submitted its findings in December 2010. Domenico Rossetti di Valdalbero, Perla Srour-Gandon and Spela Majcen present the main lessons to be gleaned from the exercise here. After reviewing the major trends in the region (in demographic, economic, cultural, scientific, agricultural and energy terms), our authors stress the principal tensions and uncertainties that are likely to influence the future of the Mediterranean zone (socio-economic inequalities, democratic and reforming aspirations, tensions between hostile states, divergent views of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation etc.). From this starting point, they present the four transitional scenarios identified by EuroMed-2030 — “Managing Conflict”, “Engaging in Win-Win Projects”, “Deeper Economic Integration” and “Towards a EuroMed Community” – as well as various flagship initiatives and more concrete recommendations that may well accompany them.
In the current context of a continuous, sustained rise in the price of fossil fuels and a battle against climate change, are there credible alternatives in the field of road transport to the internal combustion engine? Some manufacturers in the area of private transport are investing in electric vehicles – where battery performance is improving (though this remains a niche market) – and in hybrid engines. In goods transport, matters are a little more tricky, given the length of journeys and the power required. There too, however, according to Brieuc Bougnoux, the use of electrical vehicles could be an option for the future, by way of the electrification of the road network. Bougnoux outlines the technical features of such an option, the cost of its implementation and the – environmental, financial and infrastructure – advantages a country like France might derive from it. This is a route that is certainly worthy of interest, but would require coordination with European partners whose road hauliers also use the French road network.
Comment évolueront la consommation et la production d’électricité de la France au cours des 20 prochaines années ? Dans son bilan prévisionnel 2011, RTE (Réseau de transport d’électricité) envisage plusieurs scénarios possibles, y compris une baisse de la part du nucléaire dans le mix électrique.
With the economic rise of the major emerging nations, increased tensions over the supply of certain minerals and metals have been visible for several years now. This has had a direct impact on the price of these – often strategic – materials in the IT, telecoms and other sectors. However, where many minerals are concerned, one area remains that has so far been unexploited, but is nonetheless very promising: the ocean beds.
Ifremer, aware of this potential wealth and the urgent need to guarantee lasting supplies of these strategic resources both for France and for Europe, launched a foresight exercise in 2009 on deep sea mineral resources with a time-horizon of 2030. Denis Lacroix and Yves Fouquet, who were members of the study’s steering group, outline it for us here.
After recalling the international context and the different minerals and metals present in the ocean depths, they underscore the crucial issues in this field: these are scientific and economic, given the potential wealth of environmental deposits (biodiversity, preservation of ecosystems, etc.), but also legal and technological. They then present the three scenarios selected by the study: “Crisis and Compartmentalization, Political Tensions”; “Cycles as Usual”; and “Global Crises”. They end by teasing out the possible prospects for France and Europe, stressing the need to gain a foothold as soon as possible in the global competition in this sector, in terms of positioning industry for the exploration and exploitation of resources, assessing the scale of resources, applications for exploration permits, public/private cooperation etc.
Given its technological resources and long-recognized skills in the study of the ocean beds, France must remain a major player in this sector, particularly at a point when it is coming to be of crucial strategic interest.
The economic rise of the major emergent nations has, over several years, created a series of tensions on the energy and minerals markets. Quite legitimately, an increasing number of individuals are aspiring to a standard of living comparable to that of the industrialized countries and this is increasing the demand for basic raw materials (oil, gas, metals etc.) at the very point where production capabilities in certain sectors are reaching their limits. In such a context, there are ever greater needs in the area of mineral resources for exploration, prospecting and the improvement of extraction systems. Unfortunately, as Jacques Varet shows in this article, for lack of sufficient investment in the relevant scientific training in recent decades the world is short of qualified personnel to meet those needs.
Basing himself on various foresight studies he has coordinated on employment in the geosciences up to the years 2020/2030, Jacques Varet provides a global conspectus on employment and training in this field. Reviewing the development of occupations in this field over the last 30 years, he shows that it is the environmental sector that has enabled in-depth training to be maintained in the geosciences, because the extractive industries and exploration went through a lean period between 1985 and 2005. Since then, however, these industries have seen a real revival. Given that many workers in these sectors will be retiring in the coming years, the jobs market in the geosciences is very buoyant and should remain so despite the crisis. The shortage of personnel trained in the field should persist, if not indeed intensify, until 2030. This situation applies in most of the countries concerned (USA, Canada, Europe). More precisely, where France is concerned, Jacques Varet stresses the country’s assets and weaknesses in this area and makes a number of recommendations for the French training system to meet the needs of the sector and attract people to it as a career.
Alors que la forêt française est l’une des plus étendues du monde, il semble qu’elle soit aussi l’une des moins rentables. Les professionnels de la filière forestière française se sont récemment mobilisés pour en dénoncer l’inadaptation au marché et la sous-exploitation.
In his article on oil and gas prospects published last April (no. 373), Jean Laherrère showed (p. 25) how natural gas forecasts in the USA since 1985 have turned out to be far removed from the actual development subsequently recorded. Such retrospective comparisons are quite rare, if only because the forecasters and other drafters of long-term planning studies prefer to look to the future rather than the past. However, as is shown in this article by Marie-Hélène Laurent, François Cattier, Dominique Osso and Prabodh Pourouchottamin who have attempted to carry out such a retrospective analysis of foresight studies on energy demand, such comparisons have a great deal to teach us.
After specifying the nature of the studies analysed (forecasts, foresight studies, projections), what they cover and the way they were elaborated (the use of a reference scenario in particular), the authors – though cautious as to the relevance of such retrospective comparisons – ask themselves three questions. First, was the study wrong and, if so, to what extent and in what direction? Then, why was it wrong? They show, for example, the various types of possible error (trajectory, trend, variability etc.) and their impact, the importance of the quality of hypotheses and of the profile of the authors involved, and the lessons that ensue. Lastly, posing the question of the seriousness of the errors found, Laurent et al. seek to put things into perspective: on the one hand, retrospective comparisons help to refine the analysis and reduce the potential risks of error in such exercises; on the other, they enable us better to grasp consumption systems dynamically, to identify the sectors in which it is most difficult to bring about change, and to refine the timescales of the measures to be implemented – the key element in all foresight studies being that the hypotheses and scenarios should be communicated with the greatest possible transparency.
On 11 March 2011 Japan suffered an earthquake of very great magnitude, followed by a tsunami that killed thousands in the Sendai region and, most importantly, led to a major nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power station. This nuclear accident ranked at the highest level of severity on the international scale of nuclear events, making it the biggest since Chernobyl in 1986. It is still impossible to gauge the precise scope of the economic, health and human consequences of this disaster, but it is clear that it has triggered most intense debates on the nuclear issue once again.
Even if nuclear disasters of this severity are relatively rare, are we justified, given the consequences that follow, in continuing to resort to this energy source which, though admittedly it emits little “greenhouse” gas, produces much highly dangerous waste that often remains toxic for more than a century? In this summer issue devoted entirely to energy questions, Futuribles raises this question in its “Forum” column.
Corinne Lepage, a specialist in environmental questions and former French environment minister, offers us her point of view here, in substance taking the view that the human, ecological and financial dangers are much too great to be risked, particularly in a world where sources of renewable energy can now largely meet the energy and climate challenges with which we must contend.
Dans mon éditorial de janvier 2006 sur le développement durable, je dénonçais l’irresponsabilité des soixante-huitards qui, après s’être élevés contre l’évangile de la croissance, une fois arrivés aux affaires n’avaient entrepris aucune des réformes profondes qui s’imposaient, en France comme au plan international. Je soulignais notamment le caractère insoutenable d’un modèle de développement dont nous savons depuis longtemps qu’il repose sur une exploitation outrancière des ressources limitées de la planète, et génère des ...
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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.
Focus : La Voiture de demain : carburants et électricité, du CAS (Centre d’analyse stratégique) Villes du futur, futur des villes, de J.-P. Sueur World Development Report 2011, de la Banque mondiale « La démographie des infirmières à l’horizon 2030 », de la DREES Les Nouveaux Patients, de l’OPS Environnement China’s Energy and Carbon Emissions Outlook to 2050, du LBNL Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas? de l’AIE The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011, du ...
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Like all other economic activities, agriculture consumes energy; it is also, however, increasingly productive of energy (through biomass and biofuels, for example). In an energy context that is rapidly changing on account of the exhaustion of fossil resources and the battle against global warming, it is essential to be able to envisage the agricultural sector’s take – and that of its major players – on energy-related challenges. This is why the French Ministry of Agriculture’s Centre d’études et de prospective launched a broad foresight study in 2009-2010 entitled, “Agriculture Energy 2030”, the central lessons of which are reported here by Céline Laisney, Fabienne Portet and Julien Vert.
After an assessment in which they specify the links between agriculture and energy in France and stress the various medium-to-long-term issues in the field, the authors outline this foresight study and the four scenarios to which it gave rise. These four contrasting scenarios, each translated into figures, describe the probable developments of French agriculture in various energy contexts up to 2030. They are termed, respectively, “Territorialization and Energy Conservancy in the face of Crisis”, “Dual Agriculture and Energy Realism”, “Health-Agriculture without Strong Energy Constraints”, and “Ecological Agriculture and Energy Management”. Highlighting the difficulties to come, but also the opportunities available to the agricultural sector, these scenarios provide the public authorities with new elements to feed into their agricultural strategy, indicate the existing scope for manoeuvre and enable general objectives and various possible levers of change to be identified, depending on the lines of action preferred.
Despite the alerts that have been sounded since 1992, as international conferences aimed at curbing global warming have come and gone, and despite the plans for reducing the use of fossil fuel resources that call for the moderation of energy consumption, few actions or incentive measures (and even fewer directives) have actually been developed to act on the demand for energy. Yet, as Henri-Luc Thibault and El Habib El Andaloussi show here, some very concrete measures can have major effects in this area. This is the case with everything relating to the improvement of energy efficiency in building, where housing conditions, the housing stock and related energy consumption (heating, air-conditioning etc.) are concerned. Thibault and El Andaloussi show the potential impact of such measures in the Mediterranean region.
Basing themselves on the work of the “Plan Bleu” organization, which has worked out a revolutionary scenario for the energy field in the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean (to 2030), they begin by recalling the importance of buildings in regional energy consumption and the various levers that might be used to reduce that consumption (regulation, materials, efficiency of machinery etc.). In such a scenario, the potential for energy savings in this sector would seem considerable. Moreover, this would enable a substantial decrease in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved, and would also have very positive effects in terms of job creation. In conclusion, the authors point out the need for investment over 20 years, depending on the particular country concerned, to put in place the five flagship measures of energy saving, which would be genuine investments for the future…
On 11 March 2011 Japan suffered an earthquake of very high magnitude, followed by a tsunami that left thousands dead in the Sendai region, the main consequence of which was a major nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power station. Given its seriousness (the highest level on the international scale of nuclear events), the accident revived the fiercest debates between supporters and opponents of nuclear power, debates echoed by Futuribles in the “Forum” feature of this special issue. Without taking sides in the debate, Michel Drancourt has his say on the question, attempting to gauge the consequences of the disaster for both Japan and the world.
He starts out from an article published in Futuribles more than 20 years ago (no. 136, October 1989), which laid out the conclusions of a report by the Tokai Bank on the potential economic consequences of an earthquake in Tokyo. As he stresses, the situation has changed and Japan no longer occupies the central place in financial and commercial dealings that it did in the 1980s; nevertheless, the country remains an importer and major supplier of many products, and a weakened Japan will have consequences industrially, politically and economically for the rest of the world. As for the comparison of the 1989 scenario with the 2011 reality, one of the lessons to be learned is that the scenario would not have been far wrong if the earthquake had not been accompanied by the tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident. Hence two longer-term conclusions: in foresight exercises, we should not work on the basis of a single, isolated risk; and, most importantly, sources of energy production should be diversified as greatly as possible.
In the increasingly alarming context of the exhaustion of fossil fuels and global climate change, various foresight exercises have been conducted in recent years with the aim of determining alternative paths for energy production and consumption. Among these, a scenario relating to France – the négaWatt scenario – was published in 2003, and then updated in 2006. It proposed radical change in this field, based on three main levers: energy conservation, energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources.
Bernard David, who has kindly agreed to pen a critical analysis of this work for Futuribles, outlines the basic elements of the négaWatt scenario here and describes its originality but also its limitations. He highlights, in particular, various essential questions for arriving at an overall ecological assessment of the solutions advocated by négaWatt, in order to satisfy himself that they do not lead to indirect consumption or pollution likely to counterbalance the expected energy savings (this is why life-cycle analyses are so valuable). Obviously, we regret that the “négaWatt” Association was not able to present its work and its scenario itself, and we hope that the questions raised by Bernard David will encourage it to do so in these pages in the near future.
A little over five years ago, in January 2006, Futuribles devoted a sizeable special number to energy prospects and the greenhouse effect (no. 315). These were already troubling times and the gloomy prospects for the development of energy resources and the problematic of climate change were analysed in a number of articles. According to certain experts, “peak oil” was already reached in that same year of 2006: that is to say, oil production was thought to be at its height and would subsequently be stagnating before a (more or less rapid) decline. Furthermore, gas production ought to reach a ceiling around 2025-2030, as Jean Laherrère showed in these columns last April (no. 373).
In this context and given the undeniable efforts to be made to limit global warming, it has become essential, on the one hand, to act to control energy use and, on the other, to look to other sources of energy production – this second option being doubtless easier to implement than reducing consumption. Incontestably, renewable energies have an essential future role to play in the diversification of the energy mix and its orientation towards sustainable development. Cédric Philibert, a specialist in these forms of power within the International Energy Agency, here outlines their potential and the place they might occupy in years to come.
After presenting the IEA’s scenarios to 2035 and 2050 (which reveal the need for proactive policies to promote renewable energies), he focuses on the two major strands in this sector: wind power and solar energy. He then goes on to the question of what is meant by “renewable”: are these energies 100% renewable or have the supplies to be supplemented, the resources to be stored etc.? He analyses the role renewable energies could play in buildings and in the various sectors of industry and transport and under what technical conditions this might occur. Lastly, Philibert examines the economic aspects: what costs for what benefits? He shows, in substance, that, though the initial investment required is large (particularly in terms of incentive measures on the part of the public authorities), the game is certainly worth the candle in the long term, since “the massive deployment of renewable energies seems to be the key today” for responding to global energy needs and combating climate change.
On 11 March 2011 Japan suffered an earthquake of very high magnitude, followed by a tsunami that left thousands dead in the Sendai region, the main consequence of which was a major nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power station. The accident ranked at the highest level of severity on the international scale of nuclear events, making it the biggest since Chernobyl in 1986. It is still impossible to gauge the precise scope of the consequences of the disaster, but it has clearly given rise to the most intense renewed debates on the nuclear issue.
Futuribles echoes this in the “Forum” feature of this summer issue which is entirely devoted to energy questions. Bernard Bigot, chief executive officer of the technological research organization CEA, looks back on the Fukushima disaster and what it changes (or doesn’t change) so far as the use of nuclear power is concerned, particularly in France. After recalling the lessons of earlier nuclear disasters, which led to the development of the third generation of power stations, he reminds us of the currently uncontested need to free ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels, which admittedly involves increased use of renewables, but can scarcely be envisaged without nuclear power.
Lastly, where the Fukushima disaster is concerned, Bernard Bigot shows how it was, in his view, predominantly the product of a management error, from which lessons must be drawn to improve the safety conditions of existing or projected power stations and enable the staff responsible to deliver the right response as quickly as possible when an accident occurs. In this context and given France’s high level of dependence on nuclear power, the level of use of this energy source ought not to be reduced on account of the events of March 2011.
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.
En dépit des investissements et des effets d’annonce toujours plus nombreux des constructeurs et des pouvoirs publics, la « révolution » de la voiture électrique n’a toujours pas eu lieu en France. Peut-être parce que ces véhicules représentent toujours un surcoût important par rapport aux voitures thermiques, qui pourrait perdurer au cours des 10 prochaines années. C’est la conclusion d’un récent rapport du Commissariat général au développement durable (CGDD), qui invite aussi à reconsidérer le potentiel des véhicules ...
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Céline Laisney et Julien Vert sont venus présenter la démarche et les résultats de la prospective Agriculture Énergie 2030. Ce chantier, qui a réuni une trentaine d’experts d’horizons variés, a été entièrement réalisé en régie par le CEP. Depuis la fin 2010, ils entreprennent de valoriser ces travaux et de les mettre en débat auprès des acteurs concernés. Après avoir souligné l’enjeu fondamental que représente la question énergétique en agriculture, ils ont détaillé les quatre scénarios auxquels ...
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Les 4 et 5 mai dernier se tenait à Pékin un colloque organisé par l’ambassade de France en Chine, le Bureau des conseillers du Conseil des affaires de l’État de la république populaire de Chine et la Commission européenne, intitulé « L’Union européenne et la Chine en 2030 : une approche prospective ».
André Lebeau a souhaité ouvrir la réflexion sur les conditions de survie de l’humanité dans la mesure où celle-ci est confrontée à des « horizons terrestres » finis et où son mode de vie actuel n’est pas durable. Il aborde le problème d’un point de vue éthique et choisit d’en donner une représentation globale, sans tenir compte des échéances auxquelles les contraintes de la pérennité s’imposeront aux hommes, convaincu que ces contraintes apparaissent plus simplement et plus ...
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En matière de comportements respectueux de l’environnement, des écarts parfois importants demeurent entre les intentions déclarées et les actions des ménages, même si des améliorations sont observées depuis quelques années . Pour modifier leurs comportements, les ménages ont-ils besoin de petits « coups de pouce » ? C’est en tout cas le principe sur lequel reposent les nudges verts, qui permettent d’orienter les décisions sans les contraindre.
La diminution de la biodiversité pose de nombreux problèmes pour l’être humain encore bien souvent mal connus des populations. L’impact est notamment très important dans le domaine de la santé.
En développant rapidement pendant la dernière décennie l’exploitation du gaz de schiste, les États-Unis ont fait des émules dans le monde, en particulier en Europe. Cependant, la possibilité d’exploiter du gaz de schiste dans le sud-est de la France (en Ardèche en particulier) a suscité un lever de boucliers qui a conduit le gouvernement à décréter un moratoire sur l’exploration et à nommer une commission pour en évaluer les risques et le parlement s’est aussi saisi ...
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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.