RReducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming means creating a new economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and uses less energy and resources. Vigilance and technological innovation have contributed to this construction. But, in the next decade, it will primarily be based on investments: in electric cars, wind turbines or nuclear power plants, heat pumps and building insulation, battery production plants… Our goals to reduce emissions by 2030, the sum of these investments could reach around 65 billion euros per year, that is, 2 points of the annual gross domestic product.
The collective benefits of these investments are beyond doubt, even beyond climate protection: savings from imported fossil fuels, health benefits associated with reduced pollution, to take just two examples.
But these investments in the green economy have a special feature: they are not aimed at increasing production capacity or increasing productivity, as is the case with conventional investments, they are primarily aimed at getting away from fossil fuels. Therefore, in the near term, they do not allow us to produce more or at a lower cost, and they do not make us collectively richer.
Thus, the question of financing these investments becomes delicate in that they are not always financially profitable, at least in the short term. Of course, this profitability depends on future energy prices. A carbon price and the expected increase in these prices may make these investments profitable. However, they do not directly increase the solvency of households or small businesses.
A shared sacrifice
Added to these considerations of profitability is the question of fairness. The fundamental transformation of our economy and our way of life required by climate change will only be acceptable if the sacrifices it requires are shared by all, and if alternatives are available to families and businesses forced to reduce their use of fossil fuels. The cost of an electric car represents more than one year’s income for a middle-class family, and more than two years for a modest family; Housing repair and replacement of heating.
Policies to reduce emissions, whether through carbon pricing or regulations (bans on the sale of thermal cars, maintenance obligations, low-emission zones, etc.). necessary investments and thus find themselves with no other solution. This is illustrated by the “yellow vest” crisis in France and the tension in Germany over the ban on gas boilers.
Source: Le Monde