Climate: how to (quickly) reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

This post is taken from the “Chaleur humaine” newsletter, sent every Tuesday at 12 p

Climate: how to (quickly) reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

This post is taken from the “Chaleur humaine” newsletter, sent every Tuesday at 12 p.m. Every week, journalist Nabil Wakim, who hosts the Chaleur Humaine podcast, answers questions from Internet users on the climate challenge. You can register for free here:

" Good morning. I understand from your podcasts that a large part of the work must be done on a global scale. But many things take a long time to put in place (doing without oil for our cars, for example). What actions can be implemented quickly and would have an impact at a global level? » (Question sent by Marine to chaud

My answer: Yes, these actions exist! I will try to put together a series of examples of what can have a rapid effect on greenhouse gas emissions. This is inspired in particular by this graph (not very simple) which comes from the latest IPCC report. By mobilizing these actions and these technologies, scientists estimate that it is still possible to halve emissions between now and 2030 (but hey, we still have to hurry). It's not exhaustive but it gives you an idea.

1- Address methane emissions. We talk a lot about CO2, but methane is a powerful gas, which contributes much more to global warming. Its only advantage: it stays in the atmosphere for much less time. So if we reduce our methane emissions, we can slow down warming. How to get there ? By tackling leaks from the oil and gas industry (particularly in Russia and the United States), massively reducing waste and reducing meat consumption. More information in this very well done article.

2 - End deforestation. Forests are an excellent way to store carbon, and when we destroy them, we inevitably cause additional emissions − the primary cause of deforestation globally is the creation of new agricultural land, which will emit more carbon than store it. . Commitments have been made in this direction by several countries, but we are not there yet.

3 – Stop burning coal. Coal remains a massive means of producing electricity globally, but it is also the most emitting, by far! It is essential in many countries to produce electricity, in southern countries but also in Europe (in Germany or Poland). Any coal plant that goes off the power grid gives us some relief. How to do ? One option is to form pacts with countries ready to do so, such as South Africa, and support them in this trajectory.

4 - Develop renewables. If we wanted to summarize the measures deemed the most effective by the IPCC at the global level, we could say: “Put wind turbines and solar panels wherever possible. » Renewable energies are now cheaper than fossil fuels in certain countries, and can be installed quickly. Of course, they also pose problems linked to the variability of their production, which have not all been resolved. On solar, this report explains very well where we are.

5- Reduce energy demand. Behind this barbaric name, there are two very effective levers. First, energy efficiency: using devices that consume less energy, insulating buildings, etc. But also demonstrate sobriety wherever possible to avoid travel or energy needs. Last winter showed that we were capable of doing it. A simple and effective example? Reduce speed on motorways for example. I explained this here.

6 - Reduce the consumption of red meat. Yes, I know, I already said it in the first point. But as researcher Carine Barbier explained well in this episode of Chaleur humaine, it is not a question of becoming all vegetarians, but rather of reducing the meat on our plates, in our canteens and in our restaurants. By targeting, as a priority, beef, which emits three times more than pork, seven times more than chicken!

A little more “Human warmth”

On our screens. The High Council for the Climate put its annual report online on Monday October 2 in a general public version, which means that there are figures written in large letters and well-made drawings. Super useful and easy to spread.

On our nightstands (soon!). The book Chaleur humaine exists is published on October 13 by Editions du Seuil. If you wish, you can already order it in your bookstore or on your favorite online sales site! If you are in Paris, you are welcome on October 24 to the L’Instant bookstore for a meeting.

In our ears. If you don't yet listen to our daily podcast, "L'Heure du Monde", you can find here an episode on ecological planning, in which I participated, and which covers topics that we will cover in the next episode of “Human Warmth” next week.

In our debates. If you want to think about this history of planning, Le Monde has published several columns on the subject, with an interesting critical text by Christian Gollier (who was a guest on “Chaleur humaine” a few months ago), for whom we do not say the truth by wanting to make people believe that the transition will be happy. And a defense from MEP Pascal Canfin (also a former guest on “Human Chaleur”) of the Macronist transition, which he considers more advanced than that of other countries.