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Interview with Mr. Alain Grandjean

Interview with Mr. Alain Grandjean

Interview with Mr. Alain Grandjean (*) a great expert in the fight against global warming. Mr. Grandjean keeps repeating that the future of the planet and its inhabitants is at stake now.

1-First of all would you like to give the readers of Lte magazine in a few words the situation of global warming of our planet earth.

The planet has been gradually warming since the middle of the 19th century, its average temperature has increased by about 1 degree Celsius. The climate is disrupted and the consequences have been visible in all regions of the world: major heat waves, gigantic fires, torrential rains and floods, rising water levels, marine flooding, shifts in seasons and agricultural production, etc. We know the main cause of this climate change: it is the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), such as carbon dioxide or methane. Today, we emit approximately 50 billion tonnes (in CO2 equivalent) each year. The worst is yet to come if the current trajectory, which could lead to temperature increases of 3 to 6 degrees by the end of the century, is not changed. But 5 degrees is the rise that the temperature has undergone since the last ice age. This is therefore sufficient to change the climatic era. The impacts would be devastating for people and ecosystems alike.

2- The last conferences of the so-called COP parties on the climate set, among other things, as objectives a limitation of global warming between 1.5°C and 2°C by 2100. Can we achieve these objectives knowing that the time of the politics is different from that of those who defend nature. Indeed, the time of democracy is a short-term time, generally linked to elections.

These goals are vital; if we do not reach them, the consequences for billions of human beings will be tragic, as well as for the world economy. The economy cannot thrive on a planet with such an unruly climate. The investments to be made to adapt to it will be considerable but will be purely defensive and will not create value. These effects are becoming visible and now require strong political involvement. The certainly short political time will be caught up by the acceleration of extreme events. But the solutions to mitigate climate change also exist, they generate jobs and are a source of innovation. The image of the politician can benefit from this progress, if he is aware of it and promotes it.

3- How to make the achievement of these objectives binding within the framework of a competitive ecology. Especially at a time when certain technological applications resulting from modern times are consumed in much less time than it takes to reduce their polluting effects upstream and downstream.

The climate is a global public good; its preservation requires international cooperation as there is in other areas. Think, for example, of the fight against epidemics where the WHO plays a key role. Another example, it was possible to stop the destruction of the ozone layer, as soon as we knew that it was due to chemicals (chlorofluorocarbons). International cooperation on the climate has produced effects: the States have all committed to controlling and then reducing their anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. International solidarity mechanisms are being negotiated. But, indeed, it is clear that the ecological crisis that we are experiencing requires a questioning of the consumerist model that dominates in the West. We will not be able to fight indefinitely to consume more without taking into account the fact that the planet is finite. If emulation is good in economic life, it should be put at the service of innovation which simultaneously improves the lot of everyone and reduces the destruction of natural resources.

4- We know that some countries are making efforts to go in the ecological direction. But most pretend to do so. Shouldn’t we invent other politico-economic models or other indicators that integrate the safeguard dimension of our ecosystem.

At the UN, member states adopted a new sustainable development agenda, which includes a set of 17 global goals to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by to 2030.

These goals must now be taken seriously by all world leaders, seen as more important than GDP growth, which is meaningless if these goals are not achieved. They must then be implemented in each country and simultaneously monitored by the major international bodies (the G20, the IMF, the multilateral banks, and all the coordination bodies of emerging and developing countries).

5-What do you think of the quote from the late Mr. Michel SERRES FRENCH PHILOSOPHER, taken from his book “The Natural Contract”: “If there is material pollution, which exposes climate weather to risks, there is a second, invisible, which endangers the passing and flowing of time, cultural pollution. Without fighting against the second, we will fail in the fight against the first”?

Indeed, we will not get out of this major crisis without questioning the culture which is its deep source. “Science without conscience is nothing but ruin of the soul,” Rabelais once said. We also see coming here and there in the world, this “cultural revolution”, often at the local level. Many initiatives are emerging that aim to increase real sharing times and reduce material consumption: fewer goods, more links. But this does not concern the inhabitants of our planet who live in misery and for whom our common moral imperative is to help them out. And if we think that the planet will have more than 9 billion inhabitants in 2050 (in 35 years, that’s very short), we unfortunately cannot bet on the cultural change of the wealthiest inhabitants, which will take two or at least three generations. The elites of the whole world must take their responsibilities, the advanced public opinions of all countries must exert pressure. The future of the planet and its inhabitants is being played out now.

(*) Alain Grandjean is a French polytechnician engineer (class of 1975), an economist laureate of the National School of Statistics and Economic Administration (1980). He is a founding partner of Carbone 4, a consulting and research firm specializing in energy transition. Since January 2019, he has also been President of the Ecology Foundation in France. Co-chairman of the “Mobilizing finance for the climate” mission, commissioned by the French president. He co-chaired the “mission on the price of carbon at European level”, commissioned by the French Minister of the Environment.
Interview conducted by Ahmed Khaouja

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