Cécile Duflot: for the climate, “we need radical solutions”
In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV France, the former environmental minister and current director general of Oxfam France, Cécile Duflot, warns of the scale of climate change, the social inequalities faced with the phenomenon, and pleads for a radical change, particularly in the public policies.
The first of the inequalities in the face of climate change is analyzed at the global level, explains Cécile Duflot, the richest countries producing “the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions”, while the poorest countries “ are the first victims of the impacts of climate change”. In particular, “the permanent oblivion of imported emissions” who the “exasperated”.
And even within wealthy countries, it is the wealthiest people who bear the brunt of the blame, according to Oxfam research: “banks and financial institutions”through their investments, but also “the families of billionaires who own a number of large French companies”.
A model change is needed…
If taxation is, of course, one of the instruments in the fight against climate change, Ms. Duflot warns of the risks that this could increase social inequalities: “We will have to reduce everyone’s carbon emissions, including individuals. But using taxation alone is not the solution”.
In addition to taxation, legislation is also a lever to change the existing model: the ban on the manufacture “vehicles that are too heavy and consume too much energy” and “of producing products that are not designed to last” are solutions, according to the director general of Oxfam France.
Public procurement and investment must also accompany the change of model advocated by Mrs Duflot and ecologists more broadly: we must work on “the development of alternative modes of transport, on the rapprochement between the places of residence and work”, but also on “thermal renovation of housing”. Otherwise, “we won’t make it”.
It also pleads for the greening of freight transport, for example through the use of renewable energies to power boats, rather than exploiting fossil fuels. As with the aviation sector, these are areas in which “we will have to be even more incisive, and Europe could be”. “It takes moments of rupture”, she assures.
An economic model that no longer holds water according to the former environmental minister: “Green growth is bullshit. It does not exist “.
…for a change in lifestyles
A change of model which therefore allows a change of lifestyle: repairing objects, making better use of public transport and walking and cycling, alternative solutions to plastic… so many elements which, according to Cécile Duflot, must guide the population towards sobriety.
According to her, “There is no other horizon than sobriety, otherwise it will be imposed on us by the ecological disasters that we are experiencing”.
What about a “carbon capital per capita? asked EURACTIV: “what is certain is that it is fairer than taxation, because the rich can continue to pollute while the poor cannot”reacted Ms. Duflot.
Without forbidding people to travel, “the replacement of short-haul flights by the train” is a solution.
What energy for tomorrow?
Tomorrow’s energy must be green or it won’t be. Renewable energies are the solution, according to the boss of Oxfam, given that ” the only way [de lutter contre le réchauffement climatique]is to leave the fossils in the ground”.
Nuclear is no longer a viable option either, not least because of the “limits in terms of safety” : “soon, the disruption of the hydraulic cycle will no longer allow nuclear power plants to be cooled properly”.
Rather than investing and pursuing efforts to develop nuclear energy – as advocated by Emmanuel Macron and his government, for example – “ our scientific work should be to capture these energies [éolienne, solaire…] that will last as long as our planet will last”assures Cécile Duflot.
For instance, “Denmark and Portugal have shown that, on certain days, they are able to have 100% of their electricity consumption produced by renewables”.
Issues neglected during an election period
Ms. Duflot also regrets the lack of enthusiasm that environmental issues have generated during the various election campaigns. “Totally abandoned” during the presidential election, they nevertheless ” a little “ existed during the legislative elections.
Asked about the need for a radical political line on the left or in the ecologist party, her former party, Cécile Duflot considers that “it’s not a question of line, but a question of efficiency: we can use the term ‘ambitious’ if we don’t want ‘radical’, but in any case, we need a broad response”.
The climate was certainly absent from political debates, but very present in the minds of the French, because, according to her, “the majority opinion of the population has evolved positively in the need to act for the climate”.
“I have much more hope because I see, among young people, a desire to find very innovative and very low-tech technical solutions to waste less”, explains Ms. Duflot.
If the risk is to have a “discordance between political discourse and actions, the principle of reality will impose itself in a very brutal way” : floods, fires, droughts… And despite the magnitude of the expected changes, “What makes me optimistic, says Ms. Duflot, it is that we know exactly the causes and we know what to do”.
Finally, concludes Cécile Duflot, “The pandemic has allowed everyone to understand that an event could affect all of us, individually and on the whole planet, that things that seemed completely impossible finally became possible, and that we did amazing things. magnitude with exceptional rapidity. And that’s what we have to do with climate change. The pandemic has awakened an earthly conscience”.