“The final bill for the ecological transition will depend on the choices on the degree of support for households and businesses”

RReducing our greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming means building a new economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and consumes less energy and resources. Sobriety and technological innovation have their part in this construction. But, in the next decade, it will be based above all on investments: in electric vehicles, in wind turbines or nuclear power plants, in heat pumps and building insulation, in battery production plants… our targets for reducing emissions by 2030, the total of these investments could reach approximately 65 billion euros per year, or 2 points of annual gross domestic product.

The collective benefits of these investments are beyond doubt, even beyond the preservation of the climate: savings from imported fossil fuels, health gains linked to the reduction of pollution, to take just two examples.

But these investments in a green economy have a special feature: they are not aimed at increasing production capacity or increasing productivity, as is the case with usual investments, they are aimed above all at getting out of fossil fuels. In the immediate term, they therefore do not allow us to produce more or at a lower cost, and do not make us collectively richer.

The question of the financing of these investments is thus made delicate by the fact that they are not always profitable financially, at least in the short term. Of course, this profitability depends on future energy prices. Carbon pricing and an anticipated rise in these prices can thus make these investments profitable. However, they do not directly increase the solvency of households or small businesses.

shared sacrifices

Added to these considerations of profitability is a question of fairness. The major transformation of our economy and our lifestyles called for by the climate transition will only be acceptable if the sacrifices it requires are shared by all, and if alternatives are accessible to households and businesses forced to reduce their consumption. of fossil fuels. The cost of an electric vehicle represents more than one year of income for a middle-cl household, and more than two years for a modest household; the renovation of a dwelling and the change of heating as well.

Policies to reduce emissions, whether through carbon pricing or regulations (ban on the sale of thermal vehicles, renovation obligations, low-emission zones, etc.), risk encountering strong resistance if households or the companies concerned do not have the capacity to finance the necessary investments and thus find themselves without any other solution. The crisis of the “yellow vests” in France and the current tensions in Germany around the ban on gas boilers are an illustration of this.

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