Renew the mix: Carry out the energy transition, at last!

By Aurélien SaussayGissela Landa Rivera and Paul Malliet

The five-year presidential term in France will have been marked by the success of COP21, which led to the signing in December 2015 of the Paris Agreement to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2°C by the end of the century. Despite this, climate and energy issues do not seem to be priorities in the upcoming presidential debate.

These issues nevertheless deserve to be dealt with in depth, given that the decisions required entail a long-term commitment by France. In order to meet the goals France has set itself in the Law on the energy transition and green growth (LTECV), it is necessary as soon as possible to undertake the changes required in our energy mix and to improve its efficiency in order to hold down demand from the main energy-consuming sectors, i.e. residential, services, transport and industry. Continue reading “Renew the mix: Carry out the energy transition, at last!”

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The COP 21 conference: the necessity of compromise

By Aurélien Saussay

On Tuesday, 6 October 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released a preliminary version of the draft agreement that will form the basis for negotiations at the Paris Conference in December. Six years after the Copenhagen agreement, widely described as a failure, the French Secretariat is making every effort to ensure the success of COP 21 – at the cost of a certain number of compromises. Although the text’s ambitiousness has been cut down, the strategy of taking “small steps” is what can make an agreement possible.

The project has renounced a binding approach, where each country’s contributions were negotiated simultaneously, and replaced that with a call for voluntary contributions, where each country makes its commitments separately. This step was essential: the Kyoto Protocol, though ambitious, was never ratified by the United States, the world’s principal emitter of carbon at the time – and it was the attempt to build a successor on that same model which resulted in the lack of agreement at Copenhagen. Continue reading “The COP 21 conference: the necessity of compromise”

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Oil: carbon for growth

By Céline AntoninBruno Ducoudré, Hervé Péléraux, Christine Rifflart, Aurélien Saussay

This text is based on the special study of the same name [Pétrole : du carbone pour la croissance, in French] that accompanies the OFCE’s 2015-2016 Forecast for the euro zone and the rest of the world.

The 50% fall in the price of Brent between summer 2014 and January 2015 and its continuing low level over the following months is good news for oil-importing economies. In a context of weak growth, this has resulted in a transfer of wealth to the benefit of the net importing countries through the trade balance, which is stimulating growth and fuelling a recovery. Lower oil prices are boosting household purchasing power and driving a rise in consumption and investment in a context where companies’ production costs are down. This has stimulated exports, with the additional demand from other oil-importing economies more than offsetting the slowdown seen in the exporting economies. Continue reading “Oil: carbon for growth”

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The US economy at a standstill in Q1 2015: the impact of shale oil

By Aurélien Saussay (@aureliensaussay)

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis has just released its estimate of US growth in the first quarter of 2015: at an annual pace of 0.2%, the figure is well below the consensus of the leading American institutes, who had agreed on a forecast of just above 1% – well below the 3% hoped for in early March.

While it is still too early to know the exact reasons for this setback, one factor seems to be emerging: in the United States, the shale oil “revolution” seems to be on the verge of imploding. The sharp fall in crude prices in the second half of 2014 caused a collapse in mining activity: the number of oil rigs operating in the US fell by 56% from November 2014 to April 2015, returning to the level of October 2010 (see chart). The speed of this downturn underscores the fragility of the shale oil boom and its dependence on high oil prices. Continue reading “The US economy at a standstill in Q1 2015: the impact of shale oil”

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Shale gas: recovering a mirage?

By Aurélien Saussay

A report posted online on April 7 by Le Figaro assesses the gains that could be expected from the exploitation of shale gas in France: the report concludes that this is an opportunity to revive the French economy and cut France’s energy costs by substituting domestic production for our imports of gas. It estimates that the macroeconomic impact would be substantial: in the “likely” scenario, more than 200,000 jobs would be created, with an additional 1.7 points of GDP on average over a 30-year period.

The magnitude of these figures stems directly from the assumptions used in the report, especially in terms of geology. The production costs for a shale gas field and the volumes that could be extracted depend on the field’s physical characteristics (depth, permeability, ductility of the rock, etc.). However, without carrying out any experimental fracking, it is very difficult to make a future estimate of all of these parameters, and hence of the final production cost. Continue reading “Shale gas: recovering a mirage?”

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