“The economic cost of the great shift towards a carbon-free world is the blind spot in the discourse of politicians”

Chronic. How green is my revolution! Carried away by a disarming enthusiasm, some environmentalists are persuaded that the environmental transition is a long, almost calm river that would encounter only one major obstacle: the lack of courage of some of the political leaders and business leaders, clinging to to the old fossil and productivist world. A bit simple! They underestimate the strong contradictions and negative externalities inherent in an inevitable and urgent change in the production model and in lifestyles.

The economic cost of the great switch to a carbon-free world – a blind spot in the discourse of politicians, especially the Greens – remains subject to debate. The European Court of Auditors estimated it at 1 120 billion euros per year between 2021 and 2030 for the Old Continent and 145 billion for France, an estimate considered too high by some experts. But the penalization of C0 emissions2 through taxes or regulations will lead to a considerable loss in the value of capital and equipment that has become obsolete, a “Negative supply shock”, warns economist Jean Pisani-Ferry.

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The economic damage from inaction would be more exorbitant, warns an unprecedented panel of 738 economists recently surveyed by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University : 1,700 billion dollars (1,450 billion euros) per year over the next five years, according to the median of their projections. And 30,000 billion each year by 2075.

A very real risk

And the ecological cost? This is not the least of the paradoxes, but it is likely to be high in the initial phase of the transition. Can we release more greenhouse gases today to emit less tomorrow? From upstream to downstream in the production chain, there is a very real risk that a certain number of decisions will lead to this scenario. However, it does not respond to the emergency decreed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The production of rare metals used in electric vehicles and renewables is so destructive of the environment that Westerners, sometimes holders of such resources, have relocated it, becoming dependent on now hostile powers like China. An abundant mineral like copper is essential for the electrification of the planet, a key vector of the green revolution. However, more and more producer countries are taking measures to slow down its extraction and make it more expensive, with the best intentions in the world (reduction of pollution and water consumption, defense of local populations, etc.).

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