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Awareness of the climate emergency is now a reality

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The summer of 2022, with its many heat waves, was undoubtedly the summer of global warming awareness and the climate emergency. Rising temperatures are causing Greenland’s ice sheets to melt and sea levels to rise, which is even more devastating. Its cost is getting higher and higher. This cost is certainly financial: it is borne by households, businesses, communities, insurers and reinsurers; He is also human: thus, in mid-August, 5 people died as a result of the violent storms that occurred in Corsica.

To avoid increasingly dire consequences, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference set a target of increasing temperatures by less than 2°C compared to those reached in the pre-industrial era. To achieve this, it is necessary to significantly reduce emissions greenhouse gases (GHG)the most important one is carbon dioxide (CO2). According to the European Environment Agency, in 2019, greenhouse gases were emitted, in European Union, 77% from the energy sector, 11% from agriculture, 9% from industry and 3% through waste management. The European Union is also the third emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States.

These are carbon dioxide emissions2 They come primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels, eg coalthe oil and the Gas, which is mainly used in the production of electricity. For the record and in a very simplistic way, the production of electricity depends on the operation of turbines. They are powered by large quantities of steam produced by heating water with fuels such as gas, oil or even coal, which Germany has recently admitted to having to resort to.

Thus, the fight against global warming is going through an energy transition. This should lead to the replacement of polluting fuels, whose resources will eventually run out, with clean, inexhaustible energies that are permanently renewable. Such is the case with wind turning wind turbines, where water, released from opening dams, can power turbines to produce hydraulic electricity, or even with the sun making it possible to produce photovoltaic electricity.

The Ukrainian crisis was reflected in a very large rise in oil prices, especially gas, before the possible complete closure of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which supplies gas to Europe from Russia. Thus, in the futures market, the price of MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity to be delivered 2023 exceeded 1,000 euros A few days ago when I just arrived 85 euros a year ago. In France, the principle of customs shield made it possible, among other things, to limit Energy price growth of 4% in 2022 contain inflation 5.8% in one year At the end of August 2022, against 9.1% for the entire euro area. Minister Delegate in charge of Public Accounts, Gabriel AttalOn Saturday, September 3, he announced the retention of the tariff shield in 2023, in order to avoid an intolerable amputation of the purchasing power of users.

This customs shield has a cost to the state: 24 billion euros since its inception in the fall of 2021Of which 10.5 billion With regard to bridging the rise in electricity prices, 7.5 billion Under discount on fuel prices and 6 billion Under the gas price freeze. This cost increases the budget deficit and state debt. Concern for preserving the necessary public funds for the state’s signature quality as an exporter in international capital markets leads to the obvious: in the event of the apparently undesirable stalemate of the conflict in Ukraine for several years, a tariff shield is not a permanent solution. Only the replacement of fossil energies by renewable energies and, of course, the most systematic resort to nuclear energy thanks to a restart 32 plants Currently closed due to scheduled maintenance or after unforeseen corrosion problems, it would allow a return to normality in France’s energy market while contributing to the fight against global warming.

Using renewable energies also comes at a cost to the manufacturers, communities and individuals who want to use them, particularly for heating. This is the reason for the policies ESG (environmental, social and governance) for banks, including doubling financing for the development of renewable energies. Moreover, banks can, in this context, refinance themselves by issuance green bonds, the bonds sought by investors who want their money to help improve the environment. Similarly, asset management companies and insurance companies are increasingly investing in renewable energy development projects, such as wind farms.

Many companies have undertaken to Carbon neutral by 2050 Reductions in carbon dioxide emissions2 Related to energy consumption and business travel, compensation through investments in carbon dioxide sequestration projects2 like reforestation.

Awareness of the climate emergency is now a reality. Perhaps it is the urgent need to accelerate the energy transition that will make it possible to deal with it.

Olivier Levin is an affiliate professor at HEC

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