The Paris Agreement negotiated by 196 States during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015, also known as the COP 21, highlighted the global issue on the climate changing. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its consequences should have tragic effects before the end of the 21th century, including heavy drought, floods and others natural disasters which are subject to heavily impact the human life.
But some think that environmental issues cannot attract important politics interest because moving along a sustainable development path should compete business issues. Indeed, Marcus Cicero wrote that ‘the sinews of war are infinite money ‘. However, the whole world knows a crisis of the liberal system since 2008, with low economic growths and high rates of jobless. British teacher Rob Hopkins already suggested with his book ‘The Transition Handbook : From Oil Dependency to Local resilience’ that this crisis is an opportunity to save our society based on human work, according to modernisation theory. He introduced a set of rules in the aim with moving to the ecological transition. It is the process of transformation from our current production mode to an another which should be more respectful of the balance between human and nature. It is something more deeper than green-washing ; it suggests evolutions which should change our way to work, produce and consume.
What we are discussing here is the possibility of changing our economical structure through the ecological transition in the aim with preserving our human activities.
Left to right : Secretary executive of CCNUCC Christiana Figueres, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, and French president François Hollande.
The main interest of the ecological transition is the underlying concept of the energy transition. Indeed, we should develop renewable energies, as solar, wind, geothermal and hydraulic powers, to defeat the oil dependency of developed and developing countries. According to American economist Joseph Schumpeter in ‘The theory of economic development’, our business cycles are based on an endogenous process.
In other words, it means that the economic growth is a consequence of the human activity itself by the modernisation of its economical structure caused by investment and research. Both are necessary to obtain an innovative cluster and we may assert that energy production is of the main potent economic force ; electricity and coal were an innovative cluster in the 19th century and caused the industrial revolution ; petrochemistry was an innovative cluster in the 20th century and caused the post-World War II economic expansion ; renewable energies may be the innovative cluster of the 21th century and generate a new cycle of economic growth.
According to a study published in 2013 by an economist of French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Philippe Quirion, the energetic transition may create almost 700 000 jobs in France, mainly in building construction, transports and power industries. His study is essentially based on an hypothetical phase out of nuclear power before 2030. Philippe Quirion also explains that development of renewable energies in Germany has already created 390 000 jobs in Germany which has one of the lowest rate of jobless in Europe.
Plus, the ecological transition suggests an empowerment of alternative production modes as the organic farming, the local stores and the fair trade. Indeed, the social side is an important part of the process and is based on reducing and optimizing our production and our consumption models. Moreover, it enables to rectify some inaccuracies of economical globalism without nationalist rhetoric.
Organic farming knows an important economic growth as the elasticity of demand for organic products ; it suppose an important potential of development. However, the most interesting point with the expansion of this market is that its consumption is mainly related to local stores and fair trades ; according to an european study published in 2013 by the French Public Agency for the Development and the Promoting of Organic Agriculture, also know as Agence Bio, the local distribution channel of organic food was improved by twenty per cent between 2011 and 2012 while the national distribution channel for organic food was only improved by two per cent.
Earlier this year, the European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan announced that Brussels will invest 113 millions euros in 2017 to promote organic farming. Some diplomats suggest that it is one of the suitable polices to lead in the aim with resolving the european overproduction crisis ; actually, the proponents of this announcement say that the organic production has less agricultural yield but keeps profits margins based on non-price competitiveness.
To conclude, those two main ideas showed us how the ecological transition could be a serious alternative measure to the current economic crisis, by causing a new innovation cluster based on renewable energies and by changing classic production mode with more fair trade, local stores and organic agriculture. It may create more ethical jobs and an environmentally-responsible economic growth.
By : Paul REÏSSI, M00602378, Exchange student