On January 26, 2022, PROJECT SHIFT submitted its French economy transformation plan (PTEF, Odile Jacob). This report details the different levers of action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5% per year, in accordance with the objectives set during the Paris Agreements in 2015.
Starting from a worrying climate and energy context, in resonance with the publication of the 6the IPCC report, the PTEF aims to address the issue of decarbonization through pragmatic and realistic proposals. Far from being an ecological utopia, the low-carbon transformation places employment as the engine of this dynamic. The stated ambition is to influence the public debate a few days before the country’s most important elections. By raising awareness among political and economic decision-makers about the need to plan for the transition, the Shift Project is positioned among the first theoreticians of decarbonization.
The change project: what is it?
This think tank was created in 2010 and is chaired by the media outlet Jean-Marc Jancovici. The Shift Project works towards a carbon-free economy with a mission to inform and influence the energy transition debate.
This group of experts is financed in part by influential sponsors such as the industrialist ALSTOM, the insurer AXA or even the 1weather European bank BNP Paribas. But its real wealth is the group of 2,000 volunteer contributors who write and distribute the reports.
The collaborators are supervised by some fifty project directors and corrected by a committee of experts from civil society, researchers or academics. This methodology ensures the traceability of the work and advocates a certain work ethic.
In its PTEF, the Shift Project then analyzes “projects to 2050” the main uses and processes of 13 sectors, essentially interconnected. Through this systemic approach, the project aims to build a low-carbon target operation, where each link in the chain evolves in coherence with its ecosystem.
Multisectoral inventory and responses
Parallel to describing the situation of the different sectors and proposing ideas to change the situation, the PTEF establishes instructions to ensure the agility of our societies while maintaining a form of tranquility in the face of unforeseen events:
- Significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption to protect ourselves as best we can from supply-related conflicts, Europe’s only major source of hydrocarbons in the North Sea is running out, and also to respect our climate commitments!
- Limit our consumption of materials emancipate themselves as quickly as possible from the ever-increasing, permanent use of production or consumption equipment. (Large consumers of minerals or other materials acclaimed by everyone… and all the time.)
- Limit our consumption of biomass. It is prudent not to expect too much from biomass as an energy source. Their production is in direct conflict with crops and contributes to the intense pressures that are already exerted on biological resources: pollution, exploitation, erosion, artificialization of soils, etc.
The analysis of the different sectors allows us to distinguish two categories:
- Sectors known as polluters:
- Industry (20% of GHG emissions in France)
- Agriculture and food (25% of GHG emissions in France)
- Daily and long-distance mobility (25% of GHG emissions)
- Automotive (20% of GHG emissions in France)
- Less visible sectors in their emissions:
- Housing (12% of GHG emissions in France)
- Health (8% of GHG emissions in France
- Culture (1-2% of GHG emissions in France)
Thus, to reduce the carbon footprint of each sector, the proposals formulated revolve around 3 main axes:
- Local production, consumption and adaptation of lifestyles
- Reduction of distances traveled by goods and electrification of means of transport
- Migration towards a sobriety of lifestyles (as opposed to ” the energetic opulence in which we live now”)
In short, if we had to retain a single sentence from the PTEF, it would be that Improving our resilience is possible through the sobriety* of our uses, through the efficient transformation** of the technology we use or the massive use of electricity*** for our energy future.
* Fewer cars therefore less metal consumed, less meat in our meals hence less methane emissions or less frequent air travel and less distance hence a slowdown in fossil fuel extraction.
** Thanks to technological developments or the energy renovation of homes, less energy is consumed to move around or to heat the home.
*** Electrification makes it possible to extract energy in ways that are less restrictive for the environment than the production of fossil fuels. Nuclear energy complemented with renewable energies makes it possible to avoid the overexploitation of land dedicated to biofuels.
According to the Think Tank, the vision for 2050 would be of a country where the State would be a key financier, communities would coordinate climate action at the local level, companies would be encouraged to produce better, and Savings would be oriented towards ecological transition.
At the level of consumer citizens, it would be a matter of taking environmental issues much more into account in the satisfaction of needs and desires.
And for each of these levels, we won’t have to wait until 2050 to start working towards transformation…
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