“A Real Green Economy Is Possible In France”
By Michel Gay and Jean-Luc Salanave, courtesy of Contrepoints
SPENDING MORE IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH POLLUTING LESS
For 10 years the European climate policy based on renewable energy has been a failure.
It has squandered tens of billions of euros by failing to demand a guaranteed result in terms of lessening consumption of fossil fuels, and forgetting that spending more is not necessarily synonymous with polluting less.
The taxes, emission certificates, purchase obligations and generous subsidies have mostly benefited the new “green capitalism”, the renewable energy and gas lobbies, and financial speculation.
The effects on the decline in consumption of fossil fuels, and therefore on the CO2 emissions that were the goal, have been disappointing.
In France it took the yellow vests crisis to remind everyone that the purpose of this disastrous policy is not to tax more but to pollute less. Unfortunately, we still tend to focus on the billions spent rather than the tons of fossil fuels or CO2 avoided.
A MORE EXPENSIVE WIND FARM
The European Commission revealed in February 2019 that France had just granted a staggering purchase price of 155 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) for twenty years to the offshore wind project in Saint-Brieuc.
The consumer / taxpayer will pay five times more for electricity from the windfarm than that produced by the Fessenheim nuclear power plant (32 euros / MWh) which the government wants to close, and three times morethan the average market price (42 euros / MWh)!
Operators of this wind farm in Saint-Brieuc (which will only produce 500 MW) will legally receive from taxpayers more than four billion euros in subsidies between 2022 and 2042!
Meanwhile more fuel taxes will continue to mobilize the Yellow Vests!
Our Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition isn’t boasting about it. But Europe is more transparent about the ecological transgressions of the French government, especially in offshore wind projects.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL…
In addition to this exorbitant guaranteed price, the taxpayer will also have to bear the costs of connecting these wind turbines to the continent.
This additional gift to developers will be supported by RTE (and thus included in the electricity bills in the “routing” line) to meet the demand of President Macron to “renegotiate” the sale price down!
The president of RTE, Jean-François Brottes, also announced that he wants to spend an additional 15 billion euros by 2020 to manage intermittent renewables.
WHAT IS THE USE FOR THESE PUBLIC EXPENDITURES?
The French are wondering who is secretly getting rich on the backs of taxpayers in these schemes for expensive wind and photovoltaic energy.
In addition, these gifts given to promoters and their merchant banks are useless in terms of climate change because they do not reduce the consumption of fossil fuels or the CO2 emissions of France.
Inconsistencies in this energy policy result in a gap between public spending and real efficiency.
Elisabeth Borne, Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition, has announced the release of 200 million euros for the 2020-2024 period to support thermal renovation works to tackle “thermal sieves” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. heating needs and thus limit pollution.
However, a quick calculation shows that it is a misuse of public money to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
REAL SOLUTIONS FOR THE GREEN ECONOMY
Indeed, switching from gas heating to electric heating would cost 10 times less per dwelling and would save 20 times more CO2 than the partial insulation of heat seals announced by the Minister.
And this economy would be even 60 times greater with heat pumps, but … it would be more expensive.
Rather than extorting citizens, why doesn’t the costly government agency ADEME — which is supposed to advise our leaders on an energy transition that should reduce our consumption of fossil fuels (and therefore our CO2 emissions) — advocate these effective measures?
France has demonstrated over the last 30 years that the challenge of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels is winnable.
The 58 reactors of the French nuclear energy system were financed by borrowing and self-funding, without taxing citizens.
This energy policy therefore cost taxpayers nothing and the consumer was able to benefit from cheap electricity, almost half as expensive as in Germany.
All financing costs have been reimbursed by consumers (and not by the taxpayer) through the sale price of electricity.
This painless funding benefited the French.
This miracle was possible because all the economic, technical, and environmental fundamentals of this historic choice were good. It has also improved the energy independence of France.
This is not the case today for solar and wind on any of these four criteria.
As a result, each year France emits around 12 tonnes of CO2 each year per capita (five tonnes of CO2 in France, plus seven tonnes of CO2 due to our imports), almost double that of a Chinese.
A true, equitable green economy that’s respectful of public finances, the taxpayer, natural resources, and the younger generations is possible.
It is only a matter of common sense and political will.
Michel Gay and Jean-Luc Salanave.