Opinion

Climate is changing? So must the laws!

July 29, 2022 by Bertrand Piccard

Now that they are elected, what will the new French members of parliament do in the National Assembly? Laws. It is their role to pass legislative texts intended to frame behaviours and guarantee life in society, whether for education, health, security, taxes, mobility and so on. 

But will they close the huge gap that still exists when it comes to environmental protection? Today, the laws still allow us to waste energy and natural resources, to produce as much waste and to emit as much CO2 as we want. To the point that polluters dodge criticism by replying that they respect the current standards. It is true that what they are doing is legal. This is what must change.

Why this legislative delay? Because until now there were no technical solutions to do better without curbing the economic machine. Who would dare to jeopardise jobs and GDP for ecological reasons?

Fortunately, this is no longer the case today. In France, there are hundreds of systems, products, materials, devices, energy sources, which make it possible to replace what pollutes with what protects the environment. Since they are efficient and reduce waste, they improve purchasing power. That changes the situation. When the climate is changing, so must the laws! Since there are a plethora of innovative and economically profitable solutions, then it is necessary to modernise norms and standards to ease their emergence on the market.

If we want companies in France to develop and create jobs, it is not enough to push innovations with incubators and scholarships, we must pull them to market by creating a need that encourages consumers to use them.

This is why I decided, with the Solar Impulse Foundation, to launch the “Prêt à Voter” (vote-ready) campaign. The goal? Offer deputies and senators 50 turnkey legislative recommendations to modernise the legislative arsenal, implement concrete solutions that are too often unknown, and thus give innovation the place it deserves in the Chamber. These are less about prohibitions than about ways to promote more virtuous behaviours made possible by technology: increasing the share of innovative solutions in public procurement, promoting the transformation of waste into building material, recovering waste heat from chimneys factories, using electric cars as storage for solar and wind energy, encouraging geothermal energy, reducing pollution from heat engines, to name only 7 out of 50.

Far from wanting to replace legislators, we want to facilitate their work. In the form of recommendations, we submit legal hypotheses and propose actions adapted to France. MPs will thus have a collection of cutting-edge innovative proposals that can protect the environment while creating jobs and seizing new industrial opportunities.

My family experience put me on the path of realism, of the search for tangible results independent of one's own ideology. This is all the more important when the National Assembly does not have an absolute majority. Whether you are left or right, industrial or green activist, each minority must find its account, from a social, ecological, economic and security point of view. This is another advantage of the "Prêt à Voter". 

When I was flying in Solar Impulse, with no noise and no fuel, the archaic and polluting side of our daily life jumped out at me. The adventure, now, must consist in bringing the world from this inefficient past to modernity. For this, it is necessary that MPs take control. It's their turn to be pioneers!


First published in Les Echos
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