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Antoine Frérot at the Women’s Forum: innovating for a clean low carbon economy

The 13th Women's Forum Global Meeting brought together 2,000 people at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris on Thursday on the theme of “Engage for impact! Daring to lead in a disrupted world”.
Antoine Frérot, Veolia’s Chairman and CEO, spoke during the plenary entitled “Taking a stance: How businesses are taking the lead on social and environmental issues”. The Group is a partner of the Women's Forum.

The mobilization of business is of major importance because they simultaneously drive the economy and act as laboratories where new economic models are created and technologies invented. A clean low carbon economy is an economy that needs this capacity for innovation.
Veolia has filed more than 2,000 clean technology patents. 

Veolia reduces water extraction from the environment. 

This is a major challenge in areas of water stress: manufacturing a car requires 400,000 liters of water; a pair of jeans, 11,000 liters; a cell phone, 1,300 liters. Decarbonising economic growth is not enough, it also has to be dehydrated. For example, in the Nestlé dairy in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, process water is reused thanks to Veolia's technologies.

"Veolia builds "zero liquid discharge" plants, to avoid pollution, and "zero-water" plants to reduce water use conflicts in arid regions. When wastewater is treated and recycled, it becomes a resource,” explained Antoine Frérot.



Veolia transforms waste into new raw materials.

In Germany, Veolia recovers the precious metals - gold, silver, copper, and soon rare earths - on electronic boards and in mobile phones. This waste contains more gold than the ore extracted from the ground. Recycling these materials creates the resources companies need. 

“The circular economy increases the productivity of the raw materials borrowed from the environment. This economy has given our business a new mission: to produce alternative resources to compensate for the increasing scarcity of natural ones. In fact, once transformed, waste can be turned into raw materials of great value," added Antoine Frérot.

Veolia fights greenhouse gas emissions

Today, polluting the atmosphere with CO2 costs nothing; depolluting it is expensive. To win the battle for the climate, it is necessary to introduce a robust and sufficiently high carbon price. The polluter pays principle, which has long been used for wastewater and waste, must also be applied to greenhouse gases.

"To decide on these investments, Veolia has set an internal carbon price, which will ultimately reach €31 per tonne of CO2, well above the €5 to €7 on the European emission permit market, which is too low to be effective. I am in favour of a mechanism for monitoring these voluntary commitments. At Veolia, our CSR engagements, verified by KPMG, are monitored by the non-financial rating agencies VIGEO and RobecoSAM," concluded Antoine Frérot

More : 

Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2017 
> “The circular economy” and the “carbon price”, in Veolia’s climate blog