Antoine Frérot at the Positive Economy Forum: "A low-carbon world is not just a utopian dream"

The 4th LHFORUM / Positive Economy Forum in Le Havre on 16 to 19 September brings together more than 300 international experts (heads of associations and NGOs, business leaders, researchers, social entrepreneurs, political leaders) to jointly build "a positive world for all" by 2030. The CEO of Veolia, Antoine Frérot, was present for the plenary session "Special COP21 / Global Warming: companies faced with the zero carbon challenge".



Antoine Frérot, Président-directeur général de Veolia

"Creating a low carbon economy is possible provided there is a real political will, we are pragmatic and we persevere" - the conviction Antoine Frérot shared with LHForum participants on Friday 18 September. 

For the CEO of Veolia, implementing four measures would make it possible to migrate to a low-carbon economy:

. Moving from a linear “take-make-waste" consumption model to one that is more prudent, more effectively uses natural resources and is based on a circular economy approach.

"Failure to recycle waste or used products greatly increases energy requirements. However, producing new materials by recycling waste emits far less CO2 and helps protect virgin raw materials," said Antoine Frérot. The circular economy must therefore mobilize every industrial sector, in every country - even if it is particularly suited to developed countries because their waste forms "the largest mine in the world."


. Focus on short life greenhouse gases with high global warming potential, such as methane. 

Over a 20 year period, methane has made up 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions. But "methane is easier and cheaper to capture and recycle than CO2", said Antoine Frérot. Various solutions exist for capturing methane from waste and for recovering it in the form of biogas, electricity and heat. As a result of strict regulation and specific public funding these solutions are increasingly in use in developed countries. In emerging markets, regulatory and financial mechanisms for accelerating the deployment of these technologies have yet to be established.


. Making fossil fuels cleaner by sequestering the greenhouse gases they emit. 

Fossil fuels will continue to be used for several decades. The challenge today is how to make them artificially clean by means of sequestration. For instance, equipping all power plants with CO2 capture and storage systems would halve global emissions.

. Putting a price on carbon that will act as a deterrent for polluters and will be an incentive for cleaning up pollution.

Antoine Frérot is convinced that "if we really want to contain the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, we must bring the value the climate represents into the economic sphere." A carbon price should be set so that pollution becomes more expensive than cleaning it up. The money collected could be used to finance measures to clean up pollution.
Antoine Frérot concluded, "To create a positive economy, we have to leave half measures behind us. Without financial incentives and ambitious regulation, winning the CO2 battle will be a vain hope; with these measures, we can still avert the threat to the climate."  

To learn more: 

> Access to the Forum website
> Veolia and the climate
> Read Antoine Frérot’s speech on the fight against climate change