Glasgow’s COP 26: a new hope

Glasgow’S COP 26 begins in dramatic climate conditions. However, some signals make us hope in the future. Why so? Let’s go in order… and may the force be with us!

COP26 and CO2 emissions by region

Powerful forces awaken before COP 26

Movements such as Fridays for Future, proposals such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and the recent adoption of renewables along technological advances may represent a point of discontinuity with the past.

But in my opinion the last two years have marked a change of direction and I hope COP 26 in Glasgow will certify it. If you look at the graph above, you can see that emissions in the EU and the US are falling. This in itself is not particularly encouraging given the top half of the picture, but three key things have happened in the last two years. First, there has been a great collective awareness of the phenomenon thanks to bottom-up movements such as Fridays for Future, which has resulted in increased media coverage and an exploit of green movements in the Western political landscape[5]. Secondly, there was a change of administration in the White House which resulted in the comeback of the United States to the Paris Agreement[6]. Finally, China has started its own emissions trading scheme[7] and in Europe there are serious talks of a Carbon Boarder Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)[8] (for an explanation of what an emissions trading scheme and a CBAM is, read here and here).

These three factors alone could be decisive in the fight against climate change. In particular, if both the EU and the US adopt a CBAM, and after the Biden administration’s snub to France this is a bit more likely, then the chances of a global cascade effect are even higher. Moreover, even if the US were to be more timid than the EU, this does not mean that it would not follow in the old continent’s footsteps later on. The EU has already played a pioneering role in the world, legislating regulations that have been cascaded down to other continents – examples include energy labelling of household appliances, privacy regulations and regulations on chemicals used in the production of children’s toys – the phenomenon is known as the Brussels Effect[9].

Electric appliances energy-efficiency labelling adoption Source: The World is changing -

Powerful forces awaken before COP 26

Movements such as Fridays for Future, proposals such as Carbon Border Adjustment and recent technological advances may represent a point of discontinuity with the past.

The rise of renewables

On the other hand, the energy landscape has also changed a great deal in the last decade, and the global scenario in which COP 26 takes place it is not the same as the one of COP 21. Indeed, the rate of adoption of renewable energies such as wind and solar has grown exponentially in the space of a few years. Thanks to their increasing use, the cost of new renewable installations has fallen dramatically globally. The price per megawatt hour of electricity from solar, net of subsidies, has fallen by 89% in 10 years, from $359 to $40 (as of 2019), while the price per megawatt hour of electricity from wind has risen from $135 to $41/MWh. In contrast, the price of electricity from coal on a global scale remained more or less the same at $109/MWh in 2019[10].

In many countries around the world, solar and wind power are becoming the cheapest option for generating electricity.

Unfortunately, renewables have some limitations, first and foremost those of intermittency (wind power produces energy only when the wind blows and solar only during the day) and storage (it is not easy to save all the energy produced and batteries wear out and cost money). In addition, renewable energy plants require far more land than fossil fuels, with solar and wind requiring 17 to 46 times more space than coal[11].

Fortunately, technology is making leaps forward in many key areas such as hydrogen, carbon capture and nuclear.

  • Hydrogen will be crucial in the energy transition because it compensates for some of the shortcomings of renewable energies. Once obtained, hydrogen is easy to transport and store, making it an ideal substitute for renewables in times of low energy production. That’s why it’s great news that last August, Hybridt, a Swedish consortium, marketed the first green steel made using energy from hydrogen[12].
  • The term Net Zero was coined when it was realised that it would be impossible to achieve Emission Zero by 2050. All sensible scenarios for achieving Net Zero now involve the extensive use of carbon-negative technologies, i.e. technologies that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The opening of Iceland’s largest carbon capture plant ‘Orca’, with an absorption capacity of 4,000 tonnes per year, is therefore also very good news[13].
  • In the last 20 years there have been major developments in nuclear energy and some of its biggest problems, such as waste, construction time and nuclear proliferation (the risk of know-how and by-products of nuclear reactions being used for military purposes). A new generation of reactors is just around the corner (one has just been switched on in China[14]) and new modular reactors that are faster to build, safer, more compact and use waste material from the nuclear reaction as fuel are about to become a reality[15],[16], while nuclear fusion (which unlike fission does not produce radioactive waste and does not need uranium) is perhaps no longer just a distant dream[17].
COP 26 may the force be with us
Source: Flickr, John Englard -

Solo: A Green Story

The road is certainly uphill, and it is by no means sure that the human species will succeed in limiting the temperature increase compared to pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C.  On the other hand, we now know exactly what actions and investments are needed to achieve the goals agreed in Paris six years ago: halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and zeroing them by 2050.  This COP will no longer be about future ambitions, but about how governments will fulfil their Paris commitments. The Conference of the Parties in Glasgow has all the makings of a turning point in the fight against global warming.

May the green force be with us.

Giovanni Sgaravatti


[1] UK, Finland, France, US, Australia, Portugal, Brazil, India, Philippines and Nigeria.

[2] Young People’s Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon

[3] Four in 10 young people fear having children due to climate crisis

[4] Climate Emergency And Civil Disobedience

[5] The (unequal) European Green parties’ rise in the 21st Century. Origins, development and possible causes

[6] The United States Officially Rejoins the Paris Agreement

[7] China launches world’s largest carbon market: but is it ambitious enough?


[9] The Brussels Effect ; The European Union as a Global Regulatory Power




[13] Orca – the world’s first large-scale direct air capture and storage plant

[14]  Why China is developing a game-changing thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor

[15] Traveling Wave Reactor Technology

[16] France to Build Small Nuclear Reactors by 2030 in Export Push

[17] Fusione a confinamento magnetico: una fonte di energia pulita

Click Here
Source: ECB, 2021 Climate change and monetary policy in the euro area
Click Here
Global CO2 emissions from energy and industrial processes by scenario and temperature increase above pre-industrial levels in 2100
Click Here

The Youth and Sustainability: a contradictory commitmentc

1st June 2017, an event triggered the youth around sustainability matters: the United States withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change.[1] That event marked the start of a strong mobilisation of the youth around the world.

In Europe and worldwide, the media coverage of the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg followed by a decisive vote for green political parties during the European elections made visible the collective commitment of the youth to sustainability. Their objective is twofold: to demonstrate that ecology is not the prerogative of a political party or a social class, but also to allow a renewal of the European Union around federative common values.

However, do these young people continue their commitment as individuals or do they sometimes find themselves in contradictions about what is or is not really ecological? So to say: is there really a committment of the youth with sustainability?

The relationship between the youth and sustainability: a renewal in the building of Europe?

The youth and sustainability; why are they committed?

Even when young people are under the legal voting age, they are committed to major issues related to the environment and the future of their planet.[2] Their favourite themes are the degradation of the biodiversity of the oceans, soils, air and climate, light pollution, plastic, deforestation.

The claims vary from one country to another, as progresses in environmental protection are marked by disparities among countries. For example, in the area of packaging deposit, Germany introduced a deposit system for reusable bottles in the 1990s, and for plastic cans and bottles in 2003.[3] Countries such as Denmark, Estonia, Iceland and Sweden have a high collection rate for glass, plastic and aluminium packaging. Other countries such as Finland, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands set up incentives for returnable glass, plastic and aluminium packaging. Last but not least, countries such as France, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Latvia are still considering setting up  a similar system. In terms of transport, the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary are the European countries whose inhabitants use bicycles as a daily means of travel with 36%, 23% et 22% respectively.[4]

In both Southern and Eastern European Union, climate change is regarded as having an impact on daily life.[5] In Greece, Italia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, more than 90% of citizens consider that climate change has an impact on their daily life, whereas the level rises to 80% among the French, the Polish, the Spanish or the Portuguese and falls to 60% in Sweden, Finland, Denmark or the United Kingdom.

What means do they use? Is there really a link between the youth and sutainability?

The connection between the youth ans sustainability is manifested through marches, student strikes, publications as well as exchanges and challenges on social networks such as the TrashTag Challenge, by posting photos before/after a clean-up of seas, beaches or forests.

Young people committed themselves without any tactical or strategic issues as can be done by political politics, where 51% accuse them of having responsibility for the environment protection. Moreover, 95% believe politicians are not doing “enough” about environmental issues and climate change and 57% say that they are not doing “anything at all”. [6]

You believe that environmental protection is a primary responsibility of…

youth behaviours and sustainability
"you think that the main responsible for environmental issues are: governments and public institutions (51%) citizens (34%) provate companies (15%)"

From an early age, young people are made aware of the need to protect nature and the environment and they have the will to act in the general interest, thinking about their future and future generations. They can then form associations in order to their claims can be heard. The Eurobarometer survey on European youth indicates that 53% of the age range 15 to 30 has joined an association during the year.[7]

This is the case in France with Le lobby de Poissy, a junior association created by Anaïs Willocq, teacher at Michel de Montaigne school in Poissy, and Elsa Grangier, journalist, producer and coordinator of this project[8]. This has been supported by Nicolas Hulot, journalist and former Minister of Ecology and Solidarity Transition and also Hubert Reeves, astrophysicist and ecologist.

Progressively, these actors have succeeded in mobilising 310 children aged 10 to 17 years old, attending school in ten European countries and 27 of their teachers.[9] The Kids for Planet’s Rights collective then formed,[10] every country participated in the drafting of the European Declaration of the Rights of the Planet and the Living, presented at the European Parliament in Strasbourg[11] on Wednesday 27 November 2019, then translated into the 27 languages of the European Union. Its article 18 takes up the concept of ecocide, brought in France by the lawyer Valérie Cabannes[12], stating that “the planet has the right to be represented to take legal actions against any person responsible for excessive pollution”[13].

Lobby Poissy, youth and sustainability
The Lobby of Poissy

The youth and sustainability on behaviours: an individual commitment sometimes contradictory

Ingrained customer habits

This relationship between the youth and sustainability could suggest that young people are also adopting benevolent gestures in their daily lives to protect and fight against climate change. However, a study carried out from 1 to 14 March 2019, involving 1678 young individuals aged 18 to 23, using the quota method, puts into relief that 83% of the Gen Z honestly thinks that they make daily efforts to limit their impact on the environment and 18% say they do a lot,[14] sometimes more than previous generations. In Europe, this is true in only two sectors: transports because they prefer walking, public transport, car-sharing, bicycle and scooters;  the purchasing alternatives of new products favouring the second-hand market, bartering, borrowing.[15]

However, this link between the youth and sustainability is not witnessed by their behaviour as it is not that eco-responsible as one may think. iIn some areas, they seem to make fewer efforts than previous generations.[16]

  • Systematic waste sorting (63%) ;
  • Reducing disposable products consumption (47%) ;
  • Reducing water and energy consumption (46%) ;
  • Systematic purchasing of local produce (25%) ;
  • Using a more ecological means of transport (23%) ;
  • The less frequent and more efficient use of their car (22%) ;
  • Avoid short-haul flights (9%).

Customer and hedonistic habits are still ingrained among young people. They buy new clothes, take advantage of sales to buy more,[17] they do not forgo air travels and do not have the reflex to turn off electronic devices on stand-by.

A lack of knowledge of what is really ecological.

With a great deal of goodwill and conviction, young people intend to adopt a virtuous ecological behaviour. Still, a lack of knowledge persists between what is really an ecological action and what just seems to be an ecological one. The “greenwashing”[18] communication and marketing techniques cloud the issue and do not allow young people to make appropriate and eco-responsible choices. Heeding the sirens call of marketing, they buy ecolabel or organic label products, with biodegradable instead of buying in bulk, or single-use products instead of sustainable containers. Computers are being used instead of television for streaming videos or films and listening to online music has replaced media used by previous generations (vinyl records, compact disc). Although these media seem “green” or “eco-friendly”, in reality, they consume a high quantity of data with a huge ecological impact in terms of CO2. Bicycles and scooters, which they particularly appreciate, may also appear like soft modes of transport, but they are not totally ecological, since they also work with batteries that contain lithium, whose extraction requires a lot of water.[19]

It is therefore necessary to ask which actions could be taken to encourage people to understand what is ecological and what is not really ecological in order to adopt behaviours that this connection between young people and ecology comes to realize. Mentalities are changing in a positive way at a collective and individual level, but what can young people do if they are not well-informed and if the available products are not planet-friendly?

Public policies for the environment protection must be stronger in terms of prevention and awareness-raising through information and communication campaigns targeted to schools, an eco-labelling for environment-friendly and recyclable products, subsidies for the renting or purchasing of goods such as non-electric bicycles and scooters and not only for those that are electric[20], the introduction of laws for manufacturers in order to stop their production of over-packaging products even if they are recyclable, etc..

The economic reason is also between young people and ecology. Organic and eco-responsible products cost is higher than other products and, for of them, their benefits are not significant enough to give-up their consumer trend.[21]   

The transition of mentalities and actions cannot be changed overnight. This could only be efficient and sustainable if it can be carried out smoothly over decades, in line with the principles of the ecological transition that is an evolution towards a new economic and social model and a sustainable development model. [22] The solutions advocated must be thought out, tempered and realistic in order to ensure the results are not the opposite of the expected effect or the decisions taken play into the hands of economic interests or make Europe dependent on world powers (Russia and China).

Thus the European Commission has presented a European Green Deal, a Green Pact for the environment, drawing together european measures to make Europe climate neutral in 2050. Voted by the European Parliament on 7 October 2020, the objective is to reduce 60% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990 level),[23] but also to reduce the use and risk of pesticides by 2030 in the fields of agriculture and food the “farm to fork” strategy[24] and the protection of biodiversity.

Corinne Ors 


Sources and reference


[2] Anne-Marie Dieu, research director at the Walloon Observatory of  Childhood, Youth and Assistance to Youth.



[5] européenne d’investissement According to a BVA institute survey carried out for the European Investment Bank published Monday 25 of November 2019.



[8] Elsa Grangier, Rêver Grand, Ces enfants qui s’engagent pour la planète, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, mars 2020.

[9] Poland, Finland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia, Sweden, France and its overseas departments such as Guyana, la Polynésie Française et la Réunion.



[12] Valérie Cabanes is a jurist in international law specialising in human rights and humanitarian law, ecologist and French essayist.

[13] This recognition of legal and fundamental rights was already adopted in the Constitution of  Ecuador in 2008 and in 2009, Bolivia adopted similar measures. Since 2010, the UN has been proclaiming that harmony with nature must be sought and must support human societies development.

[14] A survey about young people and ecology





[19] Lithium is a rare alkali metal produced in faraway countries (Australia, Chili, Argentina, China)





[24] “The Farm to Fork” strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system constitutes one of the 11 components of the Green Deal. It sets out 5 priorities to be achieved : ensuring food safety, reducing the consumption of pesticides and fertilisers d’engrais, combating antibiotic resistance, supporting innovation and improving consumers’ information. The “Farm to Fork” strategy includes setting targets to reduce in the use of plant  health products, fertilizers and antibiotics, plans to develop organic farming, to combat food waste and fraud in the agri-food supply chain but also the reopening debates about the use of processed animal proteins, the adoption of new technologies for plant breeding or the animal welfare. Source :


Decrease taxes on labour through Carbon Pricing

Last June 27 2019, the most important scientific organisation in the field of environmental and economic resources, the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, met in Manchester to launch a proposal for a carbon tax [1], obtaining, in 24 hours, the adhesion of more than 600 signatories among academics and scientists from all over Europe [2].

In the wake of this proposal, a European citizens’ initiative was recently launched to strengthen the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), increasing both the number of industrial sectors involved and the minimum cost of one ton of CO2. The ETS is an environmental policy instrument, based on market mechanisms, to control the emissions of all the countries engaged in the system. To date, the ETS operates among all EU Member States as well as Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, limiting emissions of approximately 11,000 firms including energy providers, large factories and airlines, covering 40% of EU greenhouse gas emissions [3].

Carbon pricing is nothing new or particularly ground-breaking. Sweden, for example, adopted carbon pricing policies as early as 1991, and the emission price of one tonne of CO2 in 2018 was $139 [4]. For those interested in learning more about the EAERE proposal and the possible instruments used to combat global warming, please read the post What is Carbon Pricing? by Enerlida Liko on this very blog.

The proposed reform on carbon pricing

But let’s discuss the crux of the initiative, which can be found at There are three pillars in the proposal. First, to increase the minimum price per tonne of CO2 from the current price (which fluctuates between €10 and €35) to €50. Second, to introduce a border adjustment mechanism, so as not to disadvantage companies within the EU, by imposing equivalent duties for all countries outside the EU that are not members of the Emissions Trading System (ETS). The new rules should also include sectors such as international aviation and maritime transport, which are currently excluded from the ETS. Third, and this is the most interesting point in my opinion, new revenues should be used to lower taxes on labour and on the income of the least wealthy, as well as in encouraging investment in energy efficiency and renewables.

European citizens’ initiatives, if they reach one million signatures, are then examined by the European Commission, which in turn converts them into legislative proposals for discussion in Parliament and the Council [5]. Therefore, the details of this initiative, if it reaches the quorum, would then be deliberated further and probably widely amended. In this short article I will thereby focus on the soundness of some of the ideas underlying the initiative, rather than on its particular details.

Many EU Member States are at the forefront of renewables adoption and the EU ETS has often been taken as a model around the World [6]. Unfortunately, however, the climate crisis is getting worse every year and even the European model is not drastic enough in the eyes of an increasingly large part of the scientific community. Despite its limitations, the ETS has great potential and that is why the initiative we are discussing aims to strengthen it rather than reinvent it.

EU ETS Carbon Pricing
Source: 2020 State of the EU-ETS-Report-Long-Presentation

Double dividend

So let us come to the most interesting point of the initiative: the use of revenues from the expansion of the ETS. To date, the funds have been used to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport.

Source: Report from the European Commission to the European Parliament and Council {SWD (2018), 453 final} (figures in billion of euro for the period 2013-2017) 

The novelty of this initiative is that of using the new resources for tax relief for businesses and workers. At a key moment in the history of the European Union, which has just passed two of the darkest quarters in its history, distortionary taxes on the labour market represent a huge burden for the recovery of employment. In addition, the European Commission is desperately looking for solutions to expand its multi-annual budget and use the additional resources in the green economy and the labour market. Finally, using the revenue from this carbon tax to reduce taxation on workers would make it easier to adopt the new measure and would protect the most vulnerable individuals in society by stimulating employment and offsetting a possible loss of purchasing power (due to price increases) with a parallel net wage rise [7][8][9].

In terms of employment, the effect of lower taxation on labour would add to that of investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. A study by Heidi Garriet-Peltier and substantiated by Oxford University has shown that these investments require a larger workforce than those in fossil fuels, with an average of 7.49 jobs generated for every million dollars invested in renewables and 7.7 for every million dollars invested in energy efficiency, compared to just 2.65 new jobs created by a million-dollar fossil fuel investment [10].

Source: Nasa

As The Economist points out in an article on 23 May “The world urgently needs to expand its use of carbon prices[11], there may be many difficulties in implementing such a proposal: from determining the ecological footprint in terms of CO2 -or equivalent gas- of goods and services provided by each company, to the unpredictable reaction of superpowers such as China and India, which could respond to the border adjustment mechanism with new duties on EU goods and services.

Despite these enormous challenges, I believe that the European Union must continue in its role as a forerunner in the fight against climate change. This European citizens’ initiative can provide a push in the right direction. I invite you to read it and share it, together we can still change the course. 

Giovanni Sgaravatti


[1] Economists’ Statement on Carbon Pricing – EAERE

[2] EU economists call for carbon taxes to hit earlier net zero goal

[3] EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) | Climate Action

[4] State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2018

[5] How it works | European citizens’ initiative – portal

[6] The EU ETS: The Pioneer—Main Purpose, Structure and Features

[7] Environmentally motivated energy taxes in Scandinavian countries

[8] OECD Environmental Performance Reviews – Germany

[9] Environmental Fiscal Reform in Developing, Emerging and Transition Economies: Progress & Prospects

[10] Working Paper No. 20-02 Hepburn, O’Callaghan, Stern, Stiglitz and  Zenghelis Working Paper No. 20-02 and


To read more on the topic

Read More – Stop Global Warming (European Citizen Initiative on Carbon Pricing)

Economists’ Statement on Carbon Pricing – EAERE

Trust in the Single Market? The case of the EU Emissions Trading System

EU economists call for carbon taxes to hit earlier net zero goal (28 June, Financial Times)

The world urgently needs to expand its use of carbon prices (23rd of May, The Economists)

Will COVID-19 fiscal recovery packages accelerate or retard progress on climate change?Cameron Hepburn, Brian O’Callaghan, Nicholas Stern, Joseph Stiglitz and Dimitri Zenghelis Forthcoming in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy 36(S1) 4 May 2020 Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment | Working Paper No. 20-02 ISSN 2732-4214 (Online)

What is Carbon Pricing?

Since 1972, the International Community has acknowledged the dangerous effects of climate change on human life and the environment[1]. Over the past 40 years, great steps have been made to counter the irreversible effects of climate change, starting from scientific research, to global political action aimed at promoting sustainable societies, to major technological changes in the field of renewable energy, going as far as geoengineering. A lot has been done so far, but there is still much to be done. In 2020, we can no longer continue to speak in moderate terms when we talk about climate change, the time has come to treat this problem for what it really is: an environmental, economic, political and human emergency.

It is with this awareness that academics around the globe firmly argue that pricing carbon is an important move to achieve the ambitious targets of reducing CO2 emissions, of facilitating the transition to a zero-emission economic system and of reversing the route of global warming by 2050[2]. To find out what European petitions and initiatives are on this issue, I invite you to read the article by Giovanni Sgaravatti Decrease taxes on labour through Carbon Pricing that you can find here in Jeune Europe.

What do we mean by ‘ Carbon Pricing ‘?

In order to explain what carbon pricing is, it is necessary to spend a few words on what environmental policies are and what are the tools to implement them. When we talk about environmental policies, we mean all those strategies defined at government level to solve problems that negatively impact the environment and society. Once these strategies have been defined, it is necessary to find the most suitable methods and tools to implement them. In this context, we can divide environmental policy tools into two macro-groups: market-based instruments and command-and-control instruments (environmental regulations and legislation). When we talk about carbon pricing, we refer to a set of tools based on market mechanisms. In this group of instruments, we find both taxes on CO2 emissions (price-based instrument) and cap-and-trade systems such as the EU ETS (quantity-based instrument).

According to economists, the best way to reduce CO2 emissions is to use tools based on market mechanisms. Currently, more than 50 countries worldwide have adopted carbon pricing to reduce CO2 emissions[3].

Why adopt Carbon Pricing ?

In economic terms, CO2 emissions represent a negative externality. Negative externalities are referred to when the price of goods / services in the market does not reflect the real cost paid by the society. For example, the price of kerosene used as fuel in the aviation industry reflects only the cost of production, while the cost of damages generated by its emissions is not taken into account[4]. This means that, in the context of air transport, the decisions that businesses and consumers make are not in the interest of society, because they are based on prices that do not reflect the real cost of the good or service: cheap flight tickets provide an incentive for consumers to take a plane and increase the frequency of their travels, contributing to an increase in CO2 emissions at the expense of the collective interest; aviation companies, on the other hand, increase their travel offer more than it is optimal for the society. So we understand that, in the presence of negative externalities caused by CO2 emissions, the market is unable to act in the interest of society and the market fails. How can this failure be solved? By adjusting prices, making sure that the price paid for a particular good or service also reflects the environmental cost. In a nutshell, the market failure can be solved by establishing carbon pricing through an emission tax[5] or through a cap-and-trade system[6].

The advantages of Carbon Pricing

Economists love carbon pricing not only because it can solve the negative externality generated by CO2 emissions, but also because it allows to reduce emissions quickly and at a low cost. In other words, it is a “cost-effective” policy instrument that brings great benefits at the lowest possible cost. Pricing CO2 emissions not only leads to a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels, it also creates an incentive to adopt and develop non-polluting technologies[7]. Unlike other environmental policy tools (such as incentives for solar energy), which create a distortion within the market of renewable energy sources, carbon pricing guarantees free competition among different clean-energy alternatives, letting the best one emerge. The increased competition also pushes investment in research and development towards innovative technologies, promoting the creation of an increasingly sustainable and cutting-edge society in ‘clean’ technologies.

The challenges of adopting a Carbon Pricing Strategy

In concrete terms, what would be the impact of adopting carbon pricing? It is likely that the cost would fall entirely on consumers, as the producers and companies that pollute would increase the prices of the products and services they offer. This is inevitable, but it is also necessary and useful because with the increase in the prices of goods and services harmful to the environment, consumers will be incentivized to make more sustainable choices. In response to this change in consumer preferences, companies will be driven to transform their modus operandi and to offer goods and services in line with the demand.

An often-raised criticism of pricing emissions is that the most vulnerables (society’s lowest income categories) are also the hardest hit by this policy. This is also true. Nonetheless, this problem can be solved if the revenues collected from taxation are used to lower taxes on labour, because what kills employment and feeds unemployment are not environmental taxes but taxes on labour. By lowering this taxation, unemployment is reduced, employment is created and higher wages can be offered to the most disadvantaged groups[8].

In conclusion, carbon pricing can be a key tool not only to improve environmental conditions, but also to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable groups in the society, which are the indirect beneficiaries of lower labour taxation. However, since the benefit of this policy is seen only in the long term, while the costs are immediate, today it is still politically unpopular to speak of carbon pricing[9]. Consensus is difficult to reach in this context and the great political challenge of being able to find the right compromise between environmental protection and social consensus remains.


[1] UN Conference on the Human Environment 1972

[2] Paris Agreement 2015

[3] State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2018

[4] Kerosene Currently Untaxed

[5] Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods

[6] How Cap-and-Trade Works

[7] How Carbon Pricing Accelerates Innovation

[8] Environmental Fiscal Reform in Developing, Emerging and Transition Economies: Progress & Prospects

[9] Economists Love Carbon Taxes. Voters Don’t

Phasing out nuclear power, a solution for the future?

April 1986, Ukraine: Chernobyl’s nuclear power station is at the heart of a major and unprecedented accident which threatens the weak biological, environmental and political world balances. March 2011, Japan: a tsunami hits Fukushima’s nuclear power plant, leading to a second major nuclear accident, of the 7th level of the International Nuclear Event Scale – the highest level. These two dates have become a red-letter day, because they have had a lot of significant consequences: for the environment, the public health, the international politics and even for the way we perceive our whole industrial culture. They have put into question the way we produce our energy, and even directly the way we consume it. What only was a risk, a scenario worth considering but unlikely, has become real; and the security-related questions, with the fear of the multiplication of such accidents, led to a global questioning of the civil nuclear industry.

Therefore, the nuclear energy is at the heart of the most virulent debates, especially nowadays when the environmental discourse is on the rise. This is particularly the case in France, the country of the nuclear energy par excellence, where its detractors are yet numerous. On the global scale, France is indeed the country which produces most of its electricity from the nuclear power: in 2017, 71,6% of the French’s electricity production was from the nuclear energy, according to EDF 1. Even though the world’s giant producer of electricity of nuclear power origin remains the USA (804.9TWh in 2017, versus 379.1 for France), the proportion of this industry in the national scale of electricity production does not go over the 20%.

Source: IEA, Word Energy Statistics. All rights reserved.

Though France never experienced any nuclear accident, there are many citizens who seriously consider the risk and the potential terrible consequences that such an incident would create if it came to occur. Associations such as Greenpeace, WWF, NégaWatt or even “Sortir du Nucléaire”2 are very active in France. They try both to impact the political decisions and to raise awareness among the people. NégaWatt, for example, passes its “2017-2050 Scenario” on. Based on 10 main objectives, this scenario plans a progressive phasing out of the civil nuclear industry up to 2035; which should be fully replaced by renewable energies from now until 2050. They also plan on getting rid of all fossil fuel industries and on splitting into two France’s energy consumption. Therefore, for these association, an alternative to the nuclear power industry does exist, and must be taken into consideration. Especially as they relay other arguments than that of the dangerous risk it represents. For example, they insist on the cost of the construction or maintenance of the nuclear power stations.

Indeed, most of the Occidental civil nuclear industries are aging: most of the nuclear power plants should reach their end of life deadline (40 years) by a few years. It will thus be necessary to undertake long series of expansive works in order to extend of 10 years the lifespan of the stations; or even to construct brand new stations to replace the old ones. Just for France, about 800 million of euros would be necessary to expend one reactor’s lifespan and to obtain a new operating license. Knowing that France possesses fifity-eight reactors, the calculation is fast and obvious… And this without thinking about the cost and the hazard of the radioactive waste processing, which is the main black spot of this sector. Another worse argument is that the nuclear civil industry does not favour the energy conservation. Indeed, the nuclear energy allows humanity to consume an infinite quantity of electricity, whenever, which perpetuates the myth of an inexhaustible energy.

The nuclear power is also accused of slowing the development of renewable energies, which, according to these associations and other opponents, could perfectly replace the nuclear power in a couple of decades. It therefore seems obvious, in support of all these arguments, that the civil nuclear industry is a tool which humanity should progressively and over time get completely rid of.

Source: IEA, Word Energy Statistics. All rights reserved.

And yet. This is not as easy as it may seem. The debate cannot be all black and white: contrary to what one may think, the nuclear civil industry is not all black and, above all, the actual statistics that defend it are numerous and convincing. Indeed, in addition to producing an energy on demand, abundant and “controllable”, the nuclear power has the impressive virtue of emitting very low CO2 emisions. In fact, this is one of the least polluting energy sources in that respect (together with the aeolian): the nuclear energy emits about 12g of CO2 by kWh (the aeolian 11). By comparison, the hydraulic energy emits 24g of CO2 by kWh, the photovoltaic 41, gas-fired power stations 490 and the gigantic coal-fired power stations 820. Moreover, even if the aeolian has very low emmissions it cannot produce as much electricity as the nuclear, nor it can produce it on demand. The numbers are thus demonstrative: the nuclear energy has an essential and significant virtue, which obliges us to reconsider it. All the more so as the environmental priority of this decade is to reduce our CO2 emissions, in order to contain the global warming under 2°C. And for now, some renewable energies do not even reach such good results on this point. For that matter, even though France is not a model for an ecologic country, it still is one of the Occidental countries which emits the least CO2, mainly thanks to its nuclear uniqueness. In 2017, France emitted only 0.9% of the global CO2 (that is to say, 4.56 tons/inhab./year, knowing that its population represented 0.8% of the global population) 3.

Source: IEA, Word Energy Statistics. All rights reserved.

Therefore, why should we consider the phasing out of the nuclear energy as an emergency? When most of the nuclear’s detractors underline the risks it could engender – that is to say its potential but not assured hazardous nature – the nuclear enthusiasts highlight concrete numbers, which demonstrate very well that a phasing out of the nuclear civil industry, right now, would do nothing but worsening the global warming. Besides, most of the GIEC’s positive scenarios (succeeding in keeping the global warming under 2°C, or even 1.5°C), take the nuclear energy on. Furthermore, according to the French engineer Jean-Marc Jancovici (among many others), the idea that the nuclear industry could be entirely replaced by renewable energies is partially wrong. For such a scenario to work, it would be necessary to drastically reduce our energy consumption. It would thus be more accurate to say that this substitution would be “mainly done thanks to electricity savings, and marginally thanks to renewable energies”4.  Such a reduction of our consumption could only happen in the long run, progressively. Presently, phasing out of the nuclear energy would therefore be a debatable choice, because we cannot entirely replace it with renewable energies yet – especially because they are not neither abundant nor “controllable”, that is to say, they depend of an external factor that we do not control, such as wind or sun. We would necessarily need to compensate with resources which have a similar output to the nuclear’s: coal, gas or hydraulic. The latter require a specific geographical situation, or a significant human, economic and environmental cost, non-affordable for most of the countries.

As Jean-Marc Jancovici states, it is important to ask a question whose answer is not as obvious as it seems “are renewable energies more ecological than the nuclear energy?5.The hydraulic, the only option which really equals that of the nuclear (because it emits few CO2 and is able to produce electricity in abundance), would require very non ecological measures, such as drowning an entire valley. This is what happened for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China, world’s biggest hydraulic dam. Besides, Jancovici notes that the number of persons who had to be moved for the construction of the dam is five to ten times higher than the number of those moved because of Chernobyl’s or Fukushima’s nuclear catastrophes – especially as, regarding Chernobyl, a reversibility effect has already been observed, something that would be impossible in the case of the Three Gorges. As a result, it would be necessary to partially replace the nuclear civil industry by a system based on the use of fossil fuels. However, the consequences of such a replacement both on the environment and on public health would be worse than the initial system, based on nuclear energy. It would thus mean that humanity would retrace its steps, increasing its production of carbon dioxide.

Even though the zero risk does not exist, and that the potentially dangerous nature of the nuclear power (especially concerning its radioactive wastes) is to be taken into real consideration; it seems that this energy has particularly been demonised, its actual virtues being often forgotten. And yet, the climate change emergency still exists, and efficient measures must be taken and applied soon in order to avoid the worst catastrophe scenario. In this case, would a political measure aiming at the phasing out of the nuclear civil industry be a good measure? For now, the answer seems to be no. But it appears quite obvious that we should focus our scientific researches on two main issues: the development of the renewable energies and their capacities; as well as finding a way to get rid of the nuclear wastes and to strengthen the security of the nuclear power stations.

Eventually, mankind may find a better energy, really clean. Meanwhile, as the researcher in the “Institut du développement durable et des relations internationales (IDDRI)”7. Henri Waisman states it, the « decarbonisation can be made through different ways: the renewable energies, the catching and sequestration of carbon […] or even the nuclear energy. […] This will depend on the cost hypothesis compared to the other options. The energy transition is a choice to make. None is perfect, even renewable energies have impacts. It is essential to look at the issue in all its complexity. There will not be easy solutions8.

1. Electricité de France, French main producer and provider of electricity, possessed at 80% by the French State
2. Literally “Phasing out of the Nuclear Energy”
3. For example, compared to China, first global CO2 emitter (28.2% of CO2 global emissions in 2017, with 6.68 tons/inhab./year). It is a better number than for most of the other Western European countries (8.70 tons/inhab./year for Germany, 5.45 for Spain, 5.43 for the UK, and 5.31 for Italy).
4. « essentiellement fait par des économies d’électricité, et marginalement par des énergies renouvelables ». The author’s translatio à J-M Jancovici,« Discussion autour de quelques idées reçues sur le nucléaire civil »,
5. Ibid. « Les énergies renouvelable sont-elles plus écologiques que le nucléaire ? », author’s translation.
6. Henri Waisman, pour un article de France Tv Info du 09/07/2019, « Faut-il sortir du nucléaire pour sauver la planète ? Sept arguments pour comprendre le débat ».
7. French Institute of the sustainable development and of international relations, author’s translation.
8. Author’s translation. See Henri Waisman, in an article for France Tv Info (09/07/2019), « Faut-il sortir du nucléaire pour sauver la planète ? Sept arguments pour comprendre le débat » : la « ‘décarbonisation’ peut passer par de multiples moyens : le renouvelable, la capture et la séquestration de carbone […] ou encore le nucléaire.  […] Cela dépendra des hypothèses de coût comparées aux autres options. La transition énergétique est un choix à faire. Aucun n’est parfait, les renouvelables aussi ont des impacts. C’est essentiel de regarder le problème dans sa complexité. Il n’y aura pas de solutions simples »

Laura Poiret

Sources :

A tragic epic saga between Nature and Culture

“Human culture and environmental crisis are intimately and causally interrelated.” These are the words used by Joseph Meeker in his introduction to The Comedy of Survival. Precursor of the ecocriticism – a literary field that is interested in the way environment is represented in literature – Meeker says here something that we had already recorded and accepted for a few years now: the environmental crisis that we are living is connected with, if not directly caused by, human activities. However, he is more precise than that and he points out a particular characteristic of Humanity that is not enough re-evaluated in the current scientific and political debates: the culture. 

So what, the environmental crisis is not only caused by overproduction and heavy exploitation of the resources?! Well, yes, inevitably it is, but not only; and the problem is both more complex and older than that. On its own, science cannot bring all the answers we need, it is necessary to look for them elsewhere. Human behaviour, shaped in the culture in which we live, is one of the most important keys for the understanding of our situation.  

We could go back in forgotten times, at the beginnings of the settled humanity or at the birth of agriculture; but it seems more logical to start in the occidental Antiquity, the birthplace of the tragedy. What is thus the problem with tragedy? Joseph Meeker underlines the characteristics of the tragic Man, who is often portrayed as proud, transcendent, dignified and heroic, and by whom everyone should be inspired. Spread in the whole Occident over the centuries, this vision of humanity has established itself as the norm. And it’s precisely here that the problem lays: “the proud vision affirmed by literary tragedy have not led to tragic transcendence but to ecological catastrophe”. The tragic Man is superior – superior to the rest of the world and everything that lives in it. This is as good as justifying an oblivious and violent behaviour towards the environment: since Man is superior to everything else, he can as well control it and take advantage of it. However, for Joseph Meeker, this vision of humanity is erroneous, because it granted to the individual the utmost importance, allowing every person to think that his or her “personal greatness” could, and thus should, be accomplished, even “at the cost of great destruction”.

Photo taken here

However, it is important to precise that tragedy obviously is not the only cultural element that tends to portray Man as a mortal god. In fact, it is probably not even the first one that comes to mind. It is often said that the occidental culture is the result of two main bases: on the one hand, the Greco-Roman roots and on the other hand the Judaeo-Christian roots. Therefore, religion also has its share of responsibility in the upcoming environmental crisis. 

Lynn White is one of the first thinkers to maintain that the Judaeo-Christianism has paved the way to a (wrong) concept of the world and of the place of Man within it. In the speech he gave in front of the AAAS during a meeting in Washington in 1657, White condemns, among other things, privileged status that God granted to Man in the tales of the Creation. Upset by one particular extract from the Genesis, Lynn believes that  Christianism would thus have created a Humanity master of its world and of life on Earth. In other words, Christianism has authorised and justified any action of control and master perpetrated by Men on the living world, be it fauna or flora. Since it responds to God’s will, it is in the order of things to exploit endlessly the world’s resources; in fact, it is even precisely Man’s mission on Earth. White underlines it: “What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them”. Therefore, the indirect but long-term consequences of Christianism are none others than the environmental crisis in which we are now stuck – and that Lynn White already forecasted more than half a century ago. 

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Johann Wenzel-Peter, 1829, Pinacoteca Vaticana

Nevertheless, White’s theory is not unanimously subscribed and not everyone welcomed it whole-heartily. Many say that his interpretation of the Bible is wrong: in their opinion, Man has the great responsibility of taking care of the planet. Thus, the Genesis would recommend to Man to master it not despotically, but rather wisely, controlling it as a shepherd does with his sheep to protect them. A text can be interpreted in different manners and of course Lynn White does not have the monopoly on reason. However, his argument has the merit of underlining negative aspects of a culture based on an ambiguous religion which place Man on the top of the divine Creation and, thus, outside the Nature.


Photo by Laura Poiret

In the end, either through art or through religion, it seems obvious that the Occident has defined Humanity as something apart from Nature, as if it did not depend on it; thus authorising its massive exploitation. This good old opposition between Nature and Culture goes hand in hand with the Judaeo-Christian dualism of soul and matter. Besides this, the mere existence of the notion of Nature, a pure occidental concept still defined today in modern dictionaries as the whole of the living things on Earth but the fruit of human construction, is already very revealing. 

Fortunately, things are changing nowadays and the most recent scientific and philosophical analysis tend to refute this old dualism, highlighting a Man-animal who calls into question his or her place and behaviour on Earth. In spite of everything, we still have a lot of questions, and so few answers. We keep harbouring relentlessly the hope of resolving everything thanks to the evolution of our scientific-technical knowledge; but shouldn’t we look elsewhere as well? As Lynn White specifies it, “What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecologic crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink our old one”. Beyond any religious thought, I would add that it is necessary to rethink our whole culture. As long as our way of thinking will remain the same (anthropocentric, materialist, and probably also capitalist), it seems difficult to consider a life-saving turnaround. However, let us not lose hope: the world is waking up through the youth’s commitment to environment; it is therefore not too late yet to start changing our perception of the world and of our place within it.

Laura Poiret

[1]  Meeker, Joseph, The Comedy of Survival, New-York, Charles Scribners Sons, p.xx (1974)
[2]  Ibid., p.57
[3] Ibid., p.51
[4] American Association for the Advancement of Science
[5] “[27] So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [28] And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.” , Genesis, 1 :27-28. English Standard Version,
[6] “God planned all of this explicitly for man’s benefit and rule: no item in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purposes. […] Especially in its Western form, Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen”, White L., « The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis », 1967
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.

Climate Emergency and Civil Disobedience



The urgency of action

Anyone who is intellectually honest and who has taken the time to document himself knows that our civilization is galloping towards a wall. It is useless to beat around the bush, the effects of human activity on the environment are unequivocal and under everyone’s eyes. I came up with this article to give myself a general picture of both the phenomenon and the historical moment we are living. In the first part, I list a series of incontrovertible data that outline the current situation (and I warmly invite the sceptics to verify the sources). In the second part, I make a brief consideration about the peculiarity of the problem. Then, I report the forecasts of the most eminent body on the subject: the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Subsequently, I give space to some critics addressed to the IPCC, accused by a slice of the scientific community of being too conservative in its estimates. Finally, I conclude with some reference to working groups and initiatives to save what can be saved.

The situation today

With the year 2018 we have just experienced the four hottest years in history (from the start date of measurements), with as many as 17 of the 18 warmest years in the new millennium [1a] [1b]. Reason for which the Arctic continues to lose a volume of ice at the rate of about 13% per decade, following a rising trend (it is estimated that between 1979 and 2018 the ice lost has been between 35 and 65%) [2]. In the meanwhile, the seas have already risen by 80mm since 1993 [3] and we begin to see its impact on the total surface of emerged land (see Florida, or the 5 islands in the middle of the Pacific erased from the maps) [4];[5]. In addition to the uninhabitability of some coastal areas, climate change increases episodes of drought and floods. These extreme events impact the livelihood of entire countries, reason for which migrants caused by climate change are increasing, and the United Nations estimates they could reach up to one billion by 2050 [6]. Meanwhile, permafrost in Siberia and Alaska began to melt, releasing methane and probably triggering a chain mechanism that cannot be stopped [7]. As if this was not enough, pollution and economic overproduction are amplifying the effects of climate change, seriously damaging the planet’s biodiversity. In 2016, the WWF declared that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction in the history of our planet, with a loss of global wildlife topping to 58% just between 1970 and 2012 [8a]. This is validated by the United Nations’ Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which estimates a rate of species extinction already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years and likely to accelerate [8b]. Unfortunately, the list is still long: from the acidification of oceans, with the consequent annihilation of entire ecosystems (see coral reefs), to whales dying from plastic indigestion, fires increasingly frequent and extensive, stronger whirlwinds and hurricanes due to the greater energy present in the air, the melting of glaciers, more and more countries experiencing water scarcity, etc … [9];[10];[11].

WWF 2016 Living Planet Report. Intense colour indicates absolute water scarcity, the middle one indicates water scarcity and the green one water stress.

The response

The main problem in dealing with climate change is the discrepancy between its global nature and the political structure of human beings relying on multiple States. Furthermore, the first impacts of climate change have been localized, causing far greater damage in poorer countries. This has contributed to a general feeling that climate change was just another plague of the South of the world and that the West (the only possible leader of an international equity-based concertation) would not have suffered much from it. However, recently, the effects have started to become increasingly stronger and more frequent, helping a belated as much as indispensable global awareness. 

Prospects according to the IPCC

While the time available is relentlessly thinning, indifferent to the long delays necessary for international coordination, the planet’s temperature has already increased by one degree and the damage is starting to become irreversible. The IPCC’s predictions, laid down in its 2018 special report, tell us that even if we could keep the temperature increase within 1.5°C (best-case scenario) we would still see a further decline of coral reefs by 70-90%, an Arctic for the first time ice-free by 2100, a rise of seas level between 26 and 77 centimeters, a 9% decrease in wheat harvests, a lowering of about 1.5 million tonnes of fish caught (with a growing world population), a further increase in extreme weather events and a 9% decrease in fresh water just in the Mediterranean [11]. The increase of 1.5°C is estimated to take place between 2030 and 2050. To achieve this “optimal” scenario we should start from 2020 to cut global emissions so to place ourselves on the trend depicted in graph (b), which represents a 45% reduction of the CO2 levels emitted globally by 2030 (compared to those of 2010) and zero emissions by 2055 (gray line). However, the cumulative figure for greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase for a few decades (c) and (d). This is because we have triggered natural mechanisms that cannot be turned off with a switch (if you are going at 200 mi/h and you start breaking you will still make several feet more from the point where you pulled the break).

IPCC Summary for policymakers 2018 Special Report, SPM.1

The criticism

It is terrifying to think that those measures needed to put the world on the trend shown in graph (b) have not yet been undertaken and nothing seems to indicate that they will be in the next months. In contrast, political leaders willing to free-ride on others’ commitments abound in rich countries (USA, Russia, UK, etc). Not to mention those in developing countries like Brasil where we recently assisted to a deforestation revival in the Amazon [12], or Poland, where political leaders have no intention of replacing coal as the country’s main energy source, or China, the incarnation of energy ambiguity with a government that declares waging war on pollution but at the same time (a bit out of necessity, a bit out of interest) finances coal power stations abroad and holds the majority share in the most polluting company in the world [13] [14].

Below you can look at a map elaborated by three international institutes that depicts the degree of efficiency of the combined climate-related policies by country.

Counries’ efforts to achieve the Paris agreement targets. Picture obtained from the collaboration of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and NewClimate Institute.

This political landscape is probably one of the factors that pushes more and more researchers to disagree with the IPCC forecasts, labelling them as too optimistic. The skeptical front is quite broad, I will here mention some of the most prominent figures: Peter Wadhams, one of the most famous glaciologists in the world, Jem Bendell, professor at Cumbria University (UK), Mayer Hillman, a scientist who dedicated his life to sustainable transport, Stuart Scott, founder and president of Transition University (USA), Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, James Hansen Former Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute. What is being reproached to the IPCC are basically three points: 1) underestimate the impact of methane released into the atmosphere as a result of the permafrost thrusting, 2) considering the effects of climate change as linear and not exponential and 3) putting in the equation geoengineering technologies to extract CO2 in a scale currently not available. Wadhamas, for example, predicts an ice-free September in the Arctic already in the imminent future and a rise of the seas between 1 and 2 meters before the end of the century [15]. Professor Bendell, after a sabbatical year dedicated to research, wrote a paper entitled “Deep Adaptation” (rejected by the scientific journal to which he submitted it due to its harsh language). In the paper, Bendell writes that it does no longer make sense to do research on sustainable development, field to which he dedicated his life, because the 1.5°C and also the 2°C targets will be extensively exceeded by the next twenty years and all efforts should now turn to understanding how to adapt to a scenario of civilization collapse.

Data obtained from Corinne Le Quéré et al. (to compare with graph (b) above)

Save what can still be saved

The fact that people who have dedicated their lives to studying and research are so alarmist surely gets one thinking. Of course, the most respected body on climate change is and remains the IPCC. However, it must be acknowledged that the panel only reports forecasts widely accepted by the scientific community at the international level, and therefore these are necessarily conservative. This article aims at encouraging the reader first of all to document himself, by now there is an amount of bibliography, articles and documentaries on the subject (in all languages) that anyone can have a sound idea of the phenomenon. Secondly, I hope this piece of writing has transmitted the urgency of a global response. In democracy this can only come from a strong popular pressure towards governments, for this it is necessary to participate in movements like that of Fridays for Future, or at least to support organizations deployed for environmental protection. Individual actions are certainly important, but investments in the fashion of the Marshall plan are needed if we want to put ourselves on the trend outlined in graph (b) of the IPCC (above). For those wishing to explore the type of investments required, I recommend taking a look at the Drawdawn project (there is also a Ted talk by Chad Frischmann translated into 19 languages). In order for this change of gear to take place, you need to vote more carefully, inform the sceptics and hit the streets. 

Giovanni Sgaravatti




[2] ;







[8b] Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the work of its seventh session (May 2019)





[13] ;



[Picture in Cover by Nick Cobbing, Greenpeace]

[Global Carbon emission picture from:]


Are Electric Vehicles Beneficial Over Internal Combustion Vehicles?

In recent years the sales of electric vehicles have been rising exponentially. This has caused various car manufactures to reconsider their vehicle lines from internal combustion to the development of electric vehicles. The development of electric vehicle batteries, motors and motor control technologies can be seen in big manufactures such as BMW, Mercedes and VW. The main player who kicked off the electric vehicle race is Tesla who have expanded into developing their own battery technologies. Furthermore, non-traditional vehicle companies such a Dyson have joined in developing their own electric vehicle. This asks the question why are electric vehicles better? The following points out the main reasons. 

Image result for electric vehicle





1. Air Quality and Emissions of Electric Vehicles

In 2040 the UK government has decided to ban the sale of combustion vehicles. This is in line with the UKs clean air initiatives. The main reasons behind the ban is that combustion vehicles pollute the air around them, especially in dense cities. Air pollution has been proven to be linked to various respiratory issues in people, with higher levels of asthma in cities with air quality problems linked to traffic pollution. 

Electric cars produce no emissions directly, therefore the immediate environment they function in will remain pollutant free. This will provide health benefits to resident’s whole live near busy streets.

Image result for air quality electric vehicles


2. Instant Torque

One of the best notable performance characteristics by electric vehicle enthusiasts is that electric cars provides instant torque throughout the RPM range meaning that electric vehicles do not require a traditional transmission. This allows electric vehicles to accelerate much faster than combustion cars.  See the video demonstrating the level of acceleration the new tesla roadster contains.


3. Regenerative Braking 

Electric vehicles can regenerate the energy that is used as kinetic energy when the car is moving. In traditional combustion braking systems, the vehicle is slowed using friction breaking this waste valuable energy as heat. Electric Vehicles can brake using the electric motor and regenerate the energy into the battery pack of the car. This allows a more efficient journey as the braking energy will be used again for driving the car again. 

Video demonstration:

4. Electric Vehicles Efficiency 

Image result for electric vehicle efficiency

Electric motors are highly efficient at converting electrical energy to rotational kinetic energy at approximately 90% to which internal combustion vehicles have efficiencies around 30%. This means that electric vehicles have lower energy costs and have less energy demands for similar usage. Electric cars would have a lower carbon footprint per mile comparison to combustion vehicles. 

However! Also with Electric Vehicles, it’s not all smooth driving!

Electric cars will have some disadvantages comparted to internal combustion. Many of these issues are surrounded around the battery pack contained in the vehicle. 

1. How to charge Electric vehicles? 

Typically, people will charge their car on their driveways with their residential electrical supply. The main concern with people is that they will run out of charge, or it takes too long. This is because people are too used to filling up at petrol stations within 15 minutes.

However, this isn’t the case with electric cars, this requires a behavioural change. This could be in a similar manner to which people charge their smartphones, such as charging overnight or plugging in as soon as you get home. If a long journey is needed some planning should be done at which place you should stop and charge the car. Newer electric cars can be charged to 80% within 45mins with a 100KW charger. 

The main issue is for electric vehicles owners without a driveway or a local charging point. Considerations of charging availability for each electric vehicles buyer must undertake before purchasing an electric vehicle. It must be noted that thousands of charging points are added each year, increasing availability could make it possible for electric vehicles owners without a driveway.

Image result for eV charging




2. Li-ion Battery packs in Electric Vehicles have a limited number of charge cycles.

Image result for eV battery pack

Most Smartphone users have felt the health of their batteries decrease. This is a similar case with electric cars. The driver will need to monitor the state of health of their battery pack to get an accurate range. At the end of the battery pack life the cells within the pack are no longer good enough for electric vehicles but can be re-used in second life applications such as energy storage. 

3. The Electricity Grid.

Currently the electricity grid cannot cope with all the homes in the UK charging their electric vehicle. This problem has been worked on by national grid and current plans say that electricity costs will change depending on when you charge your electric car, peak times will be charged at a higher price. Secondly the environmental benefits that electric cars provide can be removed when the electrical supply is generated in through coal or gas generation. For a smaller carbon footprint, it must be ensured that renewable sources are a large percentage of the energy mix that is used to charge the vehicle. See below for the current energy mix in the UK. 







In conclusion the benefits electric cars provide are highly beneficial to the environment and the users of the vehicle in comparison to internal combustion. The combustion engine in mainstream vehicle applications will be obsolete. The electric vehicle revolution is near, are you ready? 


Hitendra Pandya

The least known advantages of being in the EU

The EU is an institution that enables its member States to cooperate and coordinate efforts to improve the lives of their citizens and to allow their businesses to compete with those located within the borders of global super-powers such as China and the USA.

Here below. we will focus on some examples of how the EU is deploying efforts to impact our daily life for the best (some of which we ignore altogether).

  1. The European Medicines Agency (EMA)
  2. The European Space Agency (ESA)
  3. The investment plan for Europe
  4. The general data protection regulation (GDPR)
  5. The programs for environmental protection
  6. The European food safety agency (EFSA)

Let’s try and explain what they are about:


Atomausstieg: eine Lösung für die Zukunft?

April 1986, Ukraine – im Kernkraftwerk Tschernobyl kommt es zu einem beispiellosen Unfall, der das biologische, ökologische und politische Gleichgewicht der Welt bedroht. März 2011, Japan – ein Tsunami trifft das Kernkraftwerk Fukushima und verursacht zum ersten Mal seit Tschernobyl einen noch größeren Unfall, der als Stufe 7 (die höchste Stufe auf der internationalen Skala für nukleare Ereignisse) eingestuft wird. Diese beiden Ereignisse sind berühmt geworden, weil sie auf mehreren Ebenen Konsequenzen hatten: für die Umwelt, die Gesundheit, die Politik und sogar für unsere Industriekultur. Sie stellten die Art und Weise in Frage, wie wir Energie produzieren, aber auch, wie wir sie verbrauchen. Was ein Risiko war, ein plausibles, aber unwahrscheinliches Szenario, ist Realität geworden. Die Sicherheitsfrage und die Angst, dass sich solche Ereignisse wiederholen könnten, haben uns veranlasst, die Nutzung der Kernenergie zu überdenken.

Mehr denn je ist die Kernenergie zu einer der hitzigsten Debatten der Gegenwart geworden, während das Thema Umwelt in der politischen Arena immer mehr Raum einnimmt. Das gilt besonders für Frankreich, das Atomland par exellence, wo es dennoch viele Gegner der zivilen Atomkraft gibt. Tatsächlich ist Frankreich im weltweiten Vergleich das Land, das die Kernenergie am meisten zur Stromerzeugung einsetzt: 2017 wurden laut EDF[1] 71,6 % der französischen Stromproduktion nuklear erzeugt. Obwohl der Gigant der nuklearen Stromproduktion die USA bleiben (804,9 TWh im Jahr 2017 gegenüber 379,1 für Frankreich), beträgt der Anteil dieser Produktion an der Stromerzeugung auf nationaler Ebene nur 20%.

Atomausstieg und Energie
Quelle: IEA, Word Energy Statistics. All rights reserved.

Obwohl es in Frankreich bisher keinen bedauerlichen Atomunfall gegeben hat, gibt es immer noch viele Menschen, die die Risiken und die Wahrscheinlichkeit eines Unfalls mit dramatischen Folgen fürchten und betonen. Verbände wie Greenpeace, WWF, NégaWatt, Sortir du Nucléaire[2] sind sehr aktiv und versuchen, Einfluss auf politische Entscheidungen zu nehmen und das Bewusstsein für ihr Anliegen zu schärfen. NégaWatt zum Beispiel hat seinen Idealplan 2050 vorgestellt, der einen schrittweisen Ausstieg aus der zivilen Kernenergie bis 2035 vorsieht und bis 2050 durch 100 % erneuerbare Energien ersetzt werden soll.  Sie unterstützen auch die Notwendigkeit eines vollständigen Verzichts auf fossile Brennstoffe und die Reduzierung des Energieverbrauchs in Frankreich um die Hälfte. Für diesen Verein gibt es in der Tat eine Alternative zur Atomkraft und wir müssen sie in Betracht ziehen. Zur Verteidigung ihrer These führen diese Organisationen mehrere Argumente an, nicht nur das des Unfallrisikos.

Ein weiterer Aspekt, den man beispielsweise berücksichtigen sollte, ist wirtschaftlicher Natur: Die meisten westlichen Kernkraftwerke sind in die Jahre gekommen, und in einigen Jahren werden sie bereits ihre Altersgrenze (40 Jahre) erreicht haben. Dann müssen verschiedene Renovierungen vorgenommen werden, um die Lebensdauer um 10 Jahre zu verlängern; oder es müssen direkt neue Anlagen gebaut werden – eine weitere Option, die ebenfalls sehr teuer ist. Allein in Frankreich wären 800 Millionen Euro nötig, um die Lebensdauer eines Reaktors zu verlängern und eine neue Nutzungsgenehmigung für ihn zu erhalten. Wenn man bedenkt, dass das Land achtundfünfzig davon hat, ist die Rechnung klar: Es wird eine Menge kosten… Nicht zu vergessen die Kosten und die Gefahr der Behandlung radioaktiver Abfälle, die der Hauptkritikpunkt der zivilen Kernkraft ist.

Ein weiteres, noch wichtigeres Argument ist, dass die Kernkraft nicht dazu beiträgt, einen verantwortungsvollen Energieverbrauch zu fördern, da sie uns eine unendliche Menge an Strom garantiert, der zu jeder Zeit verfügbar ist. Die Kernkraft nährt den Mythos der absolut unbegrenzten Energie. Und weil sie so gut funktioniert, wird der zivilen Kernkraft vorgeworfen, die Entwicklung der erneuerbaren Energien zu behindern, die sie schließlich ersetzen könnten. Es scheint also offensichtlich, dass die Kernenergie ein Instrument ist, aus dem wir nach und nach aussteigen sollten.

2018 Frankreich
Bilan Électrique 2018 Rte France,

Doch ganz so einfach ist es nicht. Die Debatte ist kein Manichäismus: Anders als man meinen könnte, ist nicht alles schlecht an der Kernenergie und vor allem sind die Zahlen, die sie verteidigen, überzeugend. Denn neben der Tatsache, dass sie eine reichhaltige, kontrollierbare Energieproduktion garantiert und bei Bedarf zur Verfügung steht, hat die Kernenergie den beeindruckenden Vorzug, sehr wenig CO2 auszustoßen. Tatsächlich ist sie neben der Windkraft eine der Energien, die in dieser Hinsicht am wenigsten belastet. Die Kernkraft emittiert etwa 12 g CO2 pro kW/h, die Windkraft 11. Dieser ist jedoch nicht in der Lage, kontinuierlich so viel Strom zu produzieren. Im Vergleich dazu produziert die Klempnerei 24g CO2 pro kW/h, die Photovoltaik 41, Gaskraftwerke 490 und riesige Kohlekraftwerke 820. Die Zahlen sind also eindeutig: Die Kernenergie hat einen großen unverzichtbaren Wert, der uns zwingt, sie zu überdenken. Zumal die umweltpolitische Priorität dieses Jahrzehnts darin besteht, unsere CO2-Emissionen zu senken, um die globale Erwärmung unter 2°C zu halten. Im Moment sind sogar einige erneuerbare Energien nicht so gut wie die Kernenergie. Darüber hinaus ist Frankreich, auch wenn es kein ökologisches Vorbild ist, eines der Länder mit den geringsten CO2-Emissionen der Welt, dank seiner außergewöhnlichen Atomstromerzeugung. Zum Beispiel emittierte es 2017 nur 0,9 % des weltweiten CO2 (4,56 Tonnen/Einwohner/Jahr, wenn man weiß, dass seine Bevölkerung damals 0,8 % der Weltbevölkerung ausmachte)[3].

IEA, Word Energy Statistics
Source: IEA, Word Energy Statistics. All rights reserved.

Warum sollten wir dann einen Ausstieg aus der Kernenergie als Notfall betrachten? Wenn die meisten Gegner dieser Energie auf die Risiken hinweisen, die von ihr ausgehen könnten – also auf ihre mögliche, aber unsichere Gefährlichkeit -, verweisen ihre Anhänger auf die handfesten Zahlen, die zeigen, dass ein Ausstieg aus der Kernenergie vorerst nur die globale Erwärmung verschlimmern würde. Darüber hinaus berücksichtigen die meisten GIEC-Szenarien, die die globale Erwärmung unter 2°C halten wollen, die Nutzung der Kernenergie. Laut mehreren Ingenieuren, wie z.B. Jean-Marc Jancovici, ist der Glaube, dass die Kernkraft vollständig durch erneuerbare Energien ersetzt werden kann, teilweise falsch, denn damit ein solches Szenario funktioniert, müssten wir unseren Energieverbrauch drastisch reduzieren. Es wäre dann fairer, diesen Ersatz als “im Wesentlichen mit Energieeinsparungen und geringfügig mit erneuerbaren Energien”[4] zu definieren. Eine solche Reduzierung unseres Verbrauchs werden wir nur langfristig und schrittweise erreichen können. Der Ausstieg aus der Kernenergie wäre also vorerst eine fragwürdige Entscheidung, denn wir haben noch nicht das nötige Wissen, um sie vollständig durch erneuerbare Energien zu ersetzen, und das, weil sie nicht im Überfluss vorhanden, ja nicht einmal “steuerbar” sind – das heißt, sie hängen von externen Faktoren wie Wind oder Sonne ab, die wir nicht beliebig steuern können. Es wäre dann notwendig, mit Ressourcen zu kompensieren, die einen ähnlichen Wirkungsgrad wie die Kernenergie haben, d.h. Kohle, Gas oder Wasser. Letzteres erfordert eine besondere geographische Situation oder einen erheblichen wirtschaftlichen, menschlichen und ökologischen Aufwand, der nicht für alle Länder tragbar ist.


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Wie Jean-Marc Jancovici sagt, muss man sich eine Frage stellen, deren Antwort weniger offensichtlich ist, als es scheinen mag: “Sind erneuerbare Energien ökologischer als die Kernenergie?”[5].Wasserkraft, die einzige Option, die der Atomkraft wirklich gleichwertig ist (weil sie wenig CO2 produziert und Energie im Überfluss erzeugen kann), würde Eingriffe erfordern, die nicht sehr ökologisch sind, wie z.B. die Überflutung eines ganzen Tals – wie es beim Bau des größten Staudamms der Welt, dem Drei-Schluchten-Damm in China, der Fall war. Außerdem betont Jancovici die Tatsache, dass die Zahl der durch den Bau dieses Staudamms vertriebenen Menschen zwischen 5 und 10 Mal größer ist als die der durch die Atomkatastrophen von Tschernobyl oder Fukushima vertriebenen Menschen (im ersten Fall hat bereits ein Reversibilitätseffekt eingesetzt, was im Fall der Drei Schluchten unmöglich wäre). Fazit: Die zivile Kernkraft muss durch ein System kompensiert werden, das fossile Energien nutzen würde. Dennoch sind die Umwelt- und Gesundheitsauswirkungen der letzteren schlimmer als die Auswirkungen der Kernkraft. Es wäre ein Rückschritt und würde noch mehr CO2 produzieren.

Kernkraftwerk Cruas. Foto: Maarten Sepp.

Obwohl es kein Null-Risiko gibt und man die möglichen und tatsächlichen Gefahren (vor allem im Hinblick auf radioaktive Abfälle) der zivilen Kernkraft berücksichtigen muss, scheint es, dass diese vor allem verteufelt und in ihren tatsächlichen Vorzügen wenig geschätzt wird. Dennoch liegt ein Umweltnotstand vor, es müssen effektive Maßnahmen ergriffen werden, um Katastrophenszenarien zu vermeiden. Wie können wir in diesem Fall sicher sein, dass eine politische Aktion, die auf den vollständigen Ausstieg aus der Atomkraft abzielt, eine gute Aktion ist? Im Moment sieht es so aus, als ob das nicht der Fall ist; aber wir sollten unsere Bemühungen auf jeden Fall auf zwei Hauptziele konzentrieren: die weitere Entwicklung der erneuerbaren Energien und ihrer Kapazitäten; die Suche nach einem Weg, den Atommüll loszuwerden, sowie die Stärkung der Sicherheit in Kernkraftwerken.

Irgendwann wird die Menschheit vielleicht wirklich saubere Energie finden. In der Zwischenzeit kann, wie Henri Waisman, Forscher am französischen Institut für nachhaltige Entwicklung und internationale Beziehungen (IDDRI)[6] es ausdrückt, “‘Dekarbonisierung’ durch verschiedene Mittel erfolgen: erneuerbare Energien, Kohleabscheidung […] oder sogar Kernkraft. […] Es wird von den Kosten der verschiedenen Optionen abhängen. Die Energiewende ist eine Entscheidung, die getroffen werden muss. Keiner ist perfekt, auch erneuerbare Energien haben negative Auswirkungen. Es ist notwendig, das Problem in seiner Komplexität zu betrachten. Es wird keine einfachen Lösungen geben[7].


Laura Poiret

Von Davide Clemente auf Deutsch übersetzt


[1] Electricité de France, französisches Elektrizitätsunternehmen, das sich größtenteils in staatlichem Besitz befindet.

[2] Wörtlich: “Raus aus der Kernenergie”.

[3] Zum Beispiel im Vergleich zu China, dem weltweit führenden Emittenten von CO2 (28,2 % der globalen CO2-Emissionen im Jahr 2017, davon 6,68 Tonnen pro Einwohner und Jahr). Dies ist eine bessere Leistung als in den meisten anderen westeuropäischen Ländern (8,70 Tonnen/Einwohner/Jahr; 5,45 für Spanien; 5,43 für Großbritannien und 5,31 für Italien).

[4] J-M. Jancovici, “Discussione su alcuni luoghi comuni sul nucleare civile”, “Discussion autout de quelques idées reçues sur le nucléaire civil” (übersetzt aus dem Original),

[5] “Sind erneuerbare Energien umweltfreundlicher als Kernkraft? ” Ibid.

[6] “Institut für nachhaltige Entwicklung und internationale Beziehungen”, traduzione dell’autrice

[7] Henri Waisman, für einen France Tv Info-Artikel vom 07.09.2019, “Müssen wir aus der Atomkraft aussteigen, um den Planeten zu retten? Sieben Argumente, um die Debatte zu verstehen.”, Übersetzung des Autors). Dekarbonisierung’ kann durch eine Vielzahl von Mitteln erreicht werden: erneuerbare Energien, Kohlenstoffabscheidung und -sequestrierung […] oder Kernkraft.  …] Dies wird von den Kostenannahmen im Vergleich zu anderen Optionen abhängen. Die Energiewende ist eine Entscheidung, die getroffen werden muss. Keiner von ihnen ist perfekt; auch erneuerbare Energien haben Auswirkungen. Es ist wichtig, das Problem in seiner ganzen Komplexität zu betrachten. Es wird keine einfachen Lösungen geben.



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