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From France, Best Wishes for the Planet in 2024

12.13.23 | Blog | By:

2023 is gone, the slow cooking of our planet did bring disasters, and scientists can only log more meaningful data for their models predicting it will get worse way before it gets better. The good news is that action is getting to speed. Sure, it took 100,000 delegates flying to Dubai for COP28 to issue a declaration stating that de-fossilization should be an objective for mankind, and this did not escape cartoonists. But, sometimes, you have to invest in carbon emissions to reduce them, eventually, and on a larger scale. (Is it not the case when batteries are built for EVs?). Maybe there is someone at the “global helm” in our ever-more fragmented and fractious world, even if this someone is quite a collective when it comes to climate issues.

So, which energy transition strategies should be advocated for and used in 2024 to progress in the global fight against climate change, or adapt to its consequences in the worst-case scenario? Best wishes rather than wishful thinking.

One, the strategy should have a long-term vision for investments to materialize. And it does not have to be perfect, a sub-optimal solution today, that can be a transition tool, is better than an ideal solution, possibly not invented yet, tomorrow, when it is too late. Avoid the “tragedy of the time horizon” after having witnessed the “tragedy of commons”, in other words. Better be pragmatic than utopist or, worse, ideologically minded.

Second, the three pillars of sustainability seem robust to define and support the strategy:

  • We need energy independence to secure this basic element for any household and make it, durably, affordable for all.
  • It should create well-paid jobs, keeping population active and inclusive for all.
  • And, of course, it will reduce GHG emissions and help prevent the loss of biodiversity.

Three, content: In the West, where we over-use planetary resources, frugality has to be promoted. Not deprivation, just a better and smarter use of resources, like in the circular economy or by re-thinking travel around new low-carbon technologies and the re-balancing between private and public transport.

Which low-carbon technologies? Renewables, yes, progress is undeniable and impressive, and nuclear, where it is under control. With both, we should be able to produce and distribute enough low-carbon electricity for the massive transitions in all sectors: none must be left behind, GHG emissions reduction on a grand scale forces every sector to contribute, even though the timeline may be different.

Finally, effort, immense, should be shared:

  • Public action should shoulder 50%, in building infrastructure, to regulate toward social justice.
  • Business sector must contribute: 25%? Make energy efficiency the tool for frugality, bring new jobs through innovation.
  • Individuals, for the last 25%: Only shared effort can bring acceptability for frugality and adoption of the new low-carbon solutions.

Happy New Year 2024, another year on the road toward a more habitable planet.

Philippe Marchand is a Bioenergy Steering Committee Member of the European Technology and Innovation Platform (ETIP).

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