Science

Climate Battle: 50 Years of Fighting in Documentary – Science et Avenir

For the first time, the film traces 50 years of modern history centered on the fight against climate change. The “climate battle” began in 1972: the dangers of “climate-influencing activities” were mentioned at the first UN Environment Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. “Since then, there has been a fierce battle between governments, companies and non-governmental organizations,” say the two directors, Elena Sender, a former senior reporter for Sciences et Avenir, and Alexis Barbier-Bouvet. “He confronts the convinced and the skeptical: those who want to act to avoid a declared catastrophe and those who are interested in not moving.”

Scientists got stuck

Scientists, who produce ever more accurate and extensive knowledge, are caught in ticks. We have known since the 19th century that CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned, causing the greenhouse effect. And since the 1970s, computer models have been able to predict that an increase in the average temperature of the Earth will have dramatic consequences, leading to the melting of land ice, rising sea levels, seasonal disturbances, etc.

But if warnings followed one after another, concrete, effective actions are desirable to prevent declared disasters. Why ? This film faithfully recreates the past fifty years, between scientific research and media disputes, citizen mobilization and lobbying maneuvers, political disputes and international negotiations, real progress and disappointed hopes.

A battle fraught with conflict

One of the strengths of the documentary is the story of how the climate battle itself ran into other conflicts. If Margaret Thatcher is pushing for the creation of the IPCC in 1988, it is because she has a scientific background and also because in her country she is fighting the powerful coal unions whose mines she wants to shut down.

And this is the war that will come to paralyze the transition to “climate saving” action demanded by the hundreds of millions of people who marched around the world in April 2000. , for politicians, as well as for public opinion, any message is now inaudible, except for security. “Our house is on fire and we are looking elsewhere,” lamented French President Jacques Chirac at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.

Interviews with great witnesses give life and flesh to this breathtaking story. Former Cato Institute lobbyist Jerry Taylor, looking like he’s just stepped out of Thanks for Smoking, speaks cynically and gluttony of the pressures and arguments used to delay action and sow doubt in favor of the fossil industry. fuel. And with the help of scientists who are by no means experts on the subject, such as rocket physicist Fred Singer, who are sometimes listened to much more than representatives of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Robert Watson, former president of the IPCC, sighs for his part..

James Hansen, a former NASA researcher and computer modeling pioneer is also returning to his findings: This climate whistleblower was censored by the Bush administration in May 1989, but he managed to get his message across without sanctions through skillful word-of-mouth. ping pong number prepared by Democratic Senator Al Gore.

Breathtaking backstage

The delay of the International Energy Agency (IEA), as evidenced by Fatih Birol, its chief executive, suggests that after decades of near-absolute dominance and support from mainstream institutions, the age of fossil fuels is over. John Kerry, the US President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, insists the lockdowns were the product of minorities, but very powerful ones.

Lawrence Toubiana, author of the 2015 Paris Agreement (one of the first major successes in the fight against climate change), looks back at the negotiations lurking behind the scenes during these summits and outlines a possible future as Europe begins to wean itself. from gas and oil imports after the war in Ukraine.

Tomorrow we can ask future graduates to say how “Bin Laden and Putin have each contributed to the fight against climate change, one negative, one positive.” This exceptional film already provides some clues. “To date, he is the only one who reveals the behind the scenes of this stunning but true story spanning five decades,” rate on France TV. By taking stock of actions to combat climate change, it provides a glimpse into the future. This is an electric shock, a call for decades to come when the battle for climate will become a geopolitical issue of peace and stability around the world.”

Climate Battle (72 min.), a film by Elena Sender and Alexis Barbier-Bouvet.

The documentary, scheduled for Sunday, November 6, 2022 at 20:55 in the program “Le Monde en face”, will be followed by a discussion with Paloma Moritz, journalist, head of the department “Ecology – Explosion”; Nabil Wakim, Environmental Specialist, Le Monde; Lawrence Toubiana, Director of the European Climate Fund; Yamina Sahed, IPCC expert, energy policy specialist.

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