The imperative of sustainability economic, social, environmental

OFCE[1], ECLM[2], IMK[3], AKW[4]

It was during the climax of the so-called Eurozone sovereign debt crisis that we engaged into the independent Annual Growth Survey – the project was first discussed at the end of the year 2011 and the first report was published in November 2011. Our aim, in collaboration with the S&D group at the European Parliament, has been to challenge and question the European Commission contribution to the European Semester, and to push it toward a more realistic macroeconomic policy, that is to say less focused on the short term reduction of public debt and more aware of the social consequences of the crisis and the austerity bias. For 7 years, we argued against a brutal austerity failing to deliver public debt control, we warned against the catastrophic risk of deflation. We also alerted on the social consequences of the deadly combination of economic crisis, increased labor market flexibility and austerity on inequalities, especially at the lower part of the income distribution. We cannot claim to have changed alone the policies of the Union, but we acknowledge some influence, although insufficient and too late to prevent the scars let by the crisis. Continue reading “The imperative of sustainability economic, social, environmental”

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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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Measuring well-being and sustainability: A special issue of the Revue de l’OFCE

By Eloi Laurent

This issue of the Revue de l’OFCE (no. 145, February 2016) presents some of the best works that are being produced at a rapid clip on indicators of well-being and sustainability.

Why want to measure well-being? Because the idea that economic growth represents human development, in the sense that growth represents a good summary of its various dimensions, is simply false. GDP growth is not a prerequisite for human development; on the contrary, it is now often an impediment (as is illustrated by the exorbitant health costs of air pollution in India and China, two countries that concentrate one-third of the human population). Continue reading “Measuring well-being and sustainability: A special issue of the Revue de l’OFCE”

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From the suburbs of London to global conflagration: a brief history of emissions

By Aurélien Saussay

A new interactive map of global CO2 emissions from 1750 to 2010 is helpful in understanding the historical responsibilities of the world’s different regions for the climate crisis.

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) ended on 12 December 2015 with a historic agreement. As 195 countries come to an accord on the need to limit global warming to 2 degrees by the end of the century, it is a good time to review the history of CO2 emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Right to the end of the negotiations, the question of the historical responsibility of the different countries has remained one of the main obstacles blocking the path to a global climate agreement. The recently industrialized emerging countries and the developing countries that are just beginning their economic take-off rightly refuse to provide efforts comparable to those of the developed countries. Continue reading “From the suburbs of London to global conflagration: a brief history of emissions”

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After the Paris Agreement – Putting an end to climate inconsistency

By Eloi Laurent

If the contents of the 32-page Paris Agreement (and the related decisions) adopted on 12 December 2015 by COP 21 had to be summarized in a single phrase, we could say that never have the ambitions been so high but the constraints so low. This is the basic trade-off in the text, and this was undoubtedly the condition for its adoption by all the world’s countries. The expectation had been that the aim in Paris was to extend to the emerging markets, starting with China and India, the binding commitments agreed in Kyoto eighteen years ago by the developed countries. What took place was exactly the opposite: under the leadership of the US government, which dominated this round of negotiations from start to finish right to the last minute (and where the EU was sorely absent), every country is now effectively out of Annex 1 of the Kyoto Protocol. They are released from any legal constraints on the nature of their commitments in the fight against climate change, which now amount to voluntary contributions that countries determine on their own and without reference to a common goal. Continue reading “After the Paris Agreement – Putting an end to climate inconsistency”

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Our house is on fire and we are only watching Paris

By Paul Malliet

As the 21st Conference of the Parties, COP21, began last week, all eyes were on Paris in the expectation of an ambitious global agreement that would limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C and lead countries to begin swiftly to decarbonize their economies. But there is another battle taking place right now that is being ignored, even though it could have catastrophic consequences.

The primary forests and peatlands of Indonesia, located mainly on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan (and considered one of the Earth’s three green lungs), have been ravaged by fire for months as a result of an unexpectedly long dry season, which was in turn fueled by an extremely large-scale El Niño phenomenon[1], but also and above all by the continuation of slash and burn practices, which, though illegal, are intended to deforest the land needed to expand the cultivation of palm oil. Continue reading “Our house is on fire and we are only watching Paris”

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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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Climate justice – the “Open Sesame” of the COP 21 climate conference

By Eloi Laurent

Climate negotiations cannot be limited to technical discussions between experts about the reliability of scientific data: they need to take the form of an open political dialogue that is nourished by ethical reflection involving the citizens. What should be the focus of this dialogue? With COP 21 opening in two months in Paris, it is becoming increasingly clear that the key to a possible agreement is not economic efficiency, but social justice. The “green growth” that was a goal in the past century has little mobilizing power in a world plagued by injustice. It is much more important to highlight the potential that resolute action against climate change holds for equality at the national and global level. Continue reading “Climate justice – the “Open Sesame” of the COP 21 climate conference”

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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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Tales from EDF

By Evens Saliesa

The challenge facing policy-making on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not just environmental. It is also necessary to stimulate innovation, a factor in economic growth. Measures to improve energy efficiency [1] demand high levels of investment to transform the electricity network into a smart grid. Continue reading “Tales from EDF”

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