Antoine Frérot to the Aix-en-Provence economic forums 2019: “There are short and medium term solutions to restore confidence where the climate is concerned.”

The topic of the Aix-en-Provence economic forums 2019 is: “Restoring confidence”. According to the circle of economists organizing the discussions, this breakdown in confidence is caused by the emergence of risks associated with globalization, the digital revolution, global warming and the expansion of liberating values. Participating in the round table entitled: “Between anxiety and indifference, how can one tackle the climate emergency?”, Veolia’s CEO Antoine Frérot presented his short and medium term solutions.

The climate crisis has become a reality. Since the end of COP 21 in 2015, the proportion of the global energy mix represented by coal, oil and gas has stagnated at 80% and CO2 emissions bounced back in 2017 and 2018.

Antoine Frérot, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Veolia
We cannot wait for progress to be made, because solutions are already available. Although they will not resolve all the problems, they can be put in place in the short and medium term while research is carried out for the long term. These solutions do not require substantial finance, in fact they are often financially profitable. They do not call our way of life into question and they do not require global agreement because they are often local… There are also institutional solutions. If all these solutions were duplicated and scaled up, a large proportion of the problems would be resolved. In environmental businesses, there is a study that shows that existing solutions could reduce CO2 emissions by 30%, which is what is required to avoid reaching +2°C in 2100.
Antoine Frérot

Short and medium terms solutions do exist

-Energy efficiency: in industry, for Arcelor at Fos-sur-Mer, Veolia has reduced energy consumption by 25% by reusing steelmaking gases to produce heat, steam and electricity. In buildings, two hospitals in Argentina have reduced their energy consumption by 20% and 25% respectively thanks to Veolia solutions, without investment.

-Using the unavoidable heat from non-recyclable waste or biomass, Veolia can recover renewable fuels which can directly replace fossil fuels.

-Plastics recycling: manufacturing a bottle from recycled plastic emits 70% less CO2 than using virgin plastic. In the long term, solutions are yet to be found for those who will continue to use coal, such as carbon capture and storage.


Institutional solutions can change behaviors

The CEO has mentioned regulatory restrictions and incentives. The first can speed up changes but they also have adverse effects.

Antoine Frérot concluded: “Incentives, on the contrary, are more effective. For example, for polluting to cost more than depolluting, carbon must have a price. And for that price to be acceptable, that money must be used to depollute. With a fee, depollution takes place twice as quickly, which is what has been observed with the depollution of water. And if the carbon tax is only used to depollute, a survey has shown that 70% of people would accept it… Let’s not forget that more than 60% of greenhouse gases are emitted to produce raw materials and to manufacture products. So, we should apply the “polluter pays - depolluter paid” principle. Let’s make external factors that are negative for the climate have a cost, because someone is going to pay in any case. Probably a lot more, if we do not act now, and perhaps for several generations”.

Find out more:

> Press Day 2019 - Climate: what now?

> Climate: we must act now (Planet Digital Magazine, February 2019)

> Veolia is committed to Climate