Science

Ademe Scenarios for Carbon Neutrality – Sciences et Avenir

STRATEGY. “Transition (s) 2050” that Ademe just released is very much in tune with the times. This report describes four settings in which the cartoons of the current debate find themselves, between the Amish followers of the “return to the candle” and the technophiles of the “start-up nation”. However, these 700 pages, produced by a hundred engineers, do not lend themselves much to criticism. “This exercise is based on the national low-carbon strategy, explains Arnaud Leroy, CEO of Ademe. He describes the different ways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with the responsibility of making French society aware of nature of the transformations to be achieved. to make and choices to make “. It is about carrying out an ecological revolution in thirty years where the industrial revolution took almost a century to overthrow peasant society.

France emitted 401 million tons of CO2 in 2015. In 30 years, the results should be negative, having to compensate the inevitable consumption of fossil fuels with terrestrial sinks, soils and vegetation. For the record, it took the hexagon 30 years (1990-2020) to reduce its emissions from 500 to 400 million tons alone. Ademe has worked on the two main ways to transform all activities in the country: lifestyle changes and technological advances. The researchers started from the main socioeconomic guidelines to detail the consumption of the main sectors (industry, agriculture / forestry, residential, tertiary, transport, waste) and then deduce energy balances, greenhouse gas emissions and land uses . An analysis on taxes, grants and subsidies should complete this work in January 2022.

Halve energy consumption by 2050

COOPERATIONS. The first two “stories” thus explore important changes in consumption and habits. The halving of energy consumption (heat, fuel and electricity) is based on presumed frugality. The French choose to leave the metropolises for medium-sized cities where transport and energy needs are lower. The rehabilitation of buildings is being carried out strongly, with 80% of low consumption housing (BBC). Half of this “frugal generation” travel by bicycle, a third are vegan and the entire population eats local products and three times less meat. Renewable energies cover 88% of energy needs. At 790 TeraWatts / hour (TWh), consumption fell 55% compared to 2015. Greenhouse gas emissions are therefore controlled and the national balance is negative with 42 million tons of CO2 absorbed each year.

The second scenario, called “territorial cooperation”, states that energy renewal is less proactive towards the BBC, promotes cooperation between individuals (sharing appliances and cars) and between cities for the most economical management of transport and energy, imagine relocation and greening of industries, describes an “open governance” where NGOs, unions, citizens are associated with political decisions. Consumption has also fallen 55%, but the carbon footprint is less favorable with a negative footprint of -28 million tons.

Technological scenarios are less effective in reducing greenhouse gases

BIOMASS. The other two scenarios assume that technological solutions are paramount. No more sobriety in “green technologies”. Electricity production must respond to growing demand due, in particular, to the expansion of digital technology. Biomass is widely used for increased use of forests (for heating) and energy crops for the production of biofuels and green chemistry. Cities are destroying entire neighborhoods to rebuild them according to greener standards (green construction, use of wood, positive energy buildings). The emissions caused by this growth in the use of these technologies are partially absorbed by CO2 capture-storage (CCS) and direct air capture (DAC) techniques. With 1074TWh, final consumption is only 39% lower than in 2015 and greenhouse gas emissions show a balance of -9 million tons.

Finally, the “repair bet” imagines a company that puts all its strengths in the technological response. Intensive agriculture meets food and energy needs, the economy remains global, artificial intelligence enables cleaner technologies to spread faster, cities continue to expand to meet the desire for single-family homes. Electrification is increasing dramatically and the total energy consumption with 1,360 TWh is only 23% lower than in 2015.

Respect for nature is essential

LIVING. This exercise of foresight has its limits: the main one is that it forces the line. It is likely that the path that will be followed will in fact combine technological progress and the supposed modification of lifestyles. But these scenarios perfectly highlight the obstacles standing in the way of the energy transition that is already underway. The first is urgency. To achieve neutrality, decisions must be made today. Which implies political courage. The second is that after nearly a century of increasing energy consumption, we must now take the opposite path, that of sobriety, economy and energy efficiency. And this sobriety requires radical lifestyle changes. The third is, in Ademe’s term, “respect for the living.” Biodiversity must be preserved and even restored, while more will be turned to nature both to provide biomass that will partly replace oil, gas and coal, and to store CO2. Agriculture will have to change its practices in particular to reduce the 90 million tons of CO2 it emits today and become a carbon sink again. The solutions are on the table: agroecology, agroforestry, soil conservation. Finally, according to Ademe, salvation will come from renewable energies that according to their scenarios will cover 70 to 88% of the needs in 2050. Reducing the nuclear quota in the best of cases to an adjustment variable.

End of the dream of a single-family home, of the car as a marker of social success, stopping consumption at all costs, returning to the collective: carbon neutrality imposes a profound modification of the current way of life. The challenge will be to make this revolution acceptable and desirable. Somewhere between the Amish and the geeks.

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