As a catalyst for positive change, the Global Positive Forum brought together experts, leaders and elected officials in Paris on 9 March to discuss education, inequality and climate change. Veolia CEO Antoine Frérot presented his solutions in the round table on Reconciling People with Nature.
Round table speakers (from left to right): E. Davidenkoff (Le Monde), A. Leroy (ADEME), B. Laville (Comité 21), J. Jouzel (IPCC), MC. Daveu (Kering) and A. Frérot (Veolia).
Achieving carbon neutrality
The latest IPCC report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, talks about cascading impacts that are difficult to predict. It states that with current government commitments, we are heading towards +2.7°C in 2100. “We need to move faster, with mitigation and adaptation, and make nature our ally,” said Jean Jouzel, climatologist and IPCC member, during the discussion. “We need to achieve carbon neutrality. We have no choice and we will do it.”
Generalize the deployment of existing solutions and invent those that we lack
Antoine Frérot recalled that warnings about climate change are not new and that awareness is now widespread:
The question now is which solutions to use and how to implement them to reduce carbon emissions. We need to implement the solutions that exist and invent those that don’t. Governments have a role to play in encouraging this movement. We are not rolling out wide-scale solutions fast enough, because they cost a bit more, especially at the start. For example, without taking into account the recent spike in energy prices, recycling plastic is more expensive than using virgin material. But we need to get things rolling because we now know how to recycle 80% of plastic waste.
Antoine Frérot then reaffirmed that a company is only successful if it is useful. If it pollutes, it cannot last. This change will come because pollution will soon come at a price. And then businesses will adapt very quickly.
To accelerate this change, I propose taxing all pollution emissions and using the proceeds to clean up pollution. This carbon tax should be allocated to solutions that clean up pollution. And people need to know that this additional tax is fully earmarked for cleaning up pollution.
“Hope is not enough because it can fade with each new IPCC report. We need solutions,” reaffirmed Antoine Frérot, citing energy efficiency in buildings and industry, the use of renewable energies, massive recycling, methane capture, or carbon capture to reuse carbon or make it harmless. “More than half of the solutions are already available. But pilot studies must also be carried out so that people can see them in operation.”