in some respects, the recent 'Convention' for the climate reminds us of the Grenelle of the environment, this set of meetings organized in late 2007 to discuss and develop an agenda of sustainable development in France.
With the Grenelle, the country committed for the first time in a debate organized around stakeholders intended to reflect the diversity of the civil society. With 'Convention', the idea is to dispense with the intermediate bodies in direct dialogue of the citizens, drawn at random, the most representative possible of the French population.
Grenelle of the environment : the commitments of Nicolas Sarkozy (INA, 2007)
The irish example
Unprecedented in France, this type of exercise has been conducted in other countries to get out of the deadlock of the political institutions in the face of " issues that make people angry ". The example of the most advanced is that of Ireland. In 2014, then in 2016, assemblies of citizens, drawn at random, have opened the way for the legalization of abortion and marriage between persons of the same sex.
As the High Council for the climate, another creation of the macronie, 'Convention' has been established in the emergency, in response to the crisis of the yellow Vests that began at the end of 2018. But, instead of working on a specific mandate, its mission ratissait very broad : "define measures to reduce by at least 40 % of the emissions of greenhouse gas in France in a spirit of social justice."
The result is a set of 149 proposals, grouped around 5 themes covering different aspects of our lifestyles ; there is also a supplement on proposals for constitutional reform, as well as an addition on some tracks of possible funding who does not understand, it must be stressed, any proposal that is encrypted.
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questions that annoy
The first comment that comes to the reading of the proposals is to recognize the work done by the 150 people that make up the "France in miniature", which met for nine months.
Their rendering shows how crucial it is to change the way we eat, we move, we live, we are working to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that pack up the climate. The transitional climate will not happen at the right pace without a questioning of our modes of life.
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The citizens have they discovered a new sesame to expect an acceleration of the low-carbon transition ?
On the level of content, almost all of the proposals to restate the findings already well known to the experts, in particular those, mostly from the sphere of influence of the ecological, that have accompanied the citizens. The emphasis on the energy renovation of buildings calls for the revival of the railway, a large part of the measures recommended was already present in the Grenelle of the environment.
And the answers to the "issue of contention" ? The carbon tax – yet the origin of the mobilization of the yellow Vests and this approach of 'convention' – has been, for example, evacuated. This allows Emmanuel Macron to "green" the end of the quinquennium, at least in words, by deferring the question. This is a first limit of the year.
How many billions for the transition ?
another limitation is the lack of financial evaluation of the proposals.
An evaluation has been proposed by the Institute I4CE, who has made public a costing on 22 June, the day after the publication of the report. The public expenditure additional are here estimated at $ 13 billion per year, reduced to 6-8 billion, taking into account the encryption of some recipes that could bring to the State some of the measures proposed.
This encryption may seem surprising, as by the rapidity of its execution by the weakness of the amounts obtained. Emmanuel Macron was quick to seize the ball rolling by pledging the corresponding amount ($15 billion in two years) in the finance act. Exit, therefore, the delicate matter of funding.
This trick can not escape no observer rigorous : the majority of public spending required to achieve the objectives of the 'Convention' are not the responsibility of the State, but local and regional authorities. Yet, they do not appear in the encryption I4CE or in the commitment of the president.
Three proposals for the suite
The wrong lesson to draw from this first experience of participatory democracy would be to see merely a subterfuge to enable the head of the executive, bury good account of the difficult issues in the field of low-carbon transition.
Far to align my remarks on the comments, sometimes derogatory, that have accompanied the delivery of the work of the 150, I permit myself to make, as a citizen directly concerned, three proposals for the future.
In the first place, not to bury the question of the speed limit to 110 km/h on the motorways. It is a question that angry ? Precisely : it is in this type of situation to which deliberative democracy must unblock the decision. So I expect that the 150 we shed light on the reasons for their choice in the matter to prevent the policy of discarding on the one measure that could potentially save many tons of CO2 in the short term.
In the second place, I propose that there are questions about the very terms of the mandate given to the citizens. The goal of a 40 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 does not seem to me in effect not binding : it is in the strict continuation of the downward trend in effect since 2005. However, it is urgent to enhance.
© Christian de Perthuis
The good question is how much... The experts, of course, their opinions on this issue that will not fail, also, to get angry. Why not ask the question to the 150 ?
In the third place, note that the response of Emmanuel Macron to the Convention between a caricature of the approach of the citizens to that of the decay. As formulated, the proposals of the 150 evade the question.
When you accelerate the low-carbon transition, we generate new investments and jobs that are conducive to growth. Simultaneously, it accelerates the divestment of fossil fuels ; it has a social and economic cost which flange the activity. Where is this cost in the proposals of the 150 and how to minimise this by funding the retraining ?
Here's another difficult question that should be submitted to the deliberation of citizens.
* Christian de Perthuis is professor of economics, founder of the chair of economy of the climate at the university of Paris-Dauphine-PSL