The Environment – It’s Our World
Sustainable, green, eco-friendly. They don’t all mean the same but they do add up to the same thing: looking after our environment.
The word “green” has been a colloquialism for decades referring to pretty much everything that benefits the environment. “Eco-friendly” is slightly different in that it relates to things that do not harm the planet specifically, and “sustainable”, according to the United Nations, refers to something that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainability is seen to be the higher standard. Highlighting the future, it means that the item or the use of it has social and economical benefits and, at the same time, doesn’t use up too many resources or cause pollution. It’s all about the life-cycle of a product, rather than a stage in its life. For instance, a product may be made from renewable resources and referred to as being “green” but, if it requires a lot of energy in its manufacture or distribution or cannot be disposed of properly, it is not sustainable.
With, thank goodness, so much awareness being placed on environmental and social responsibility, we thought we would look at what is happening here in France.
An environmental report is published every four years by Le Commissariat Général au Développement Durable (CGDD) du Ministère de la Transition Ecologique et Solidaire (MTES). The latest, dated 24 October, 2019, shows that both air pollution and gas emissions have diminished between 2000 and 2017. However, it also states that the effects of climate change have become more obvious with forest fires, heatwaves, droughts, floods and, of course, the excessive heat during the summer of 2019 being a prime example.
The full report can be read at https://bit.ly/2QAFat7 (secure link). Written in French, it identifies how a number of programmes are changing the ecological face of France.
Captions, l to r: A French wind farm; Elizabeth Borne, Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition; the electric Renault Twizy
The Environment – It’s Our World – here are some of the examples of how France is dealing with the environmental challenge.
Since 2000 the modernisation of sewage treatment plants and specific measures in the agricultural sector have been improving the quality of water and rivers. Whilst they have helped to reduce the presence of organic materials such as nitrates and phosphates, the levels reaching the sea via rivers are still unacceptable. These, together with other coastline and marine waste regulations, will continue to work towards eliminating harmful emissions to the sea.
La Loi Agriculture et Alimentation looks at food quality from both an environmental and nutritional viewpoint. Its aim is that organic farming will account for 15% of French agricultural land by 2020. As part of the 2018 plan for bio-diversity, measures have also been implemented to accelerate a reduction in the use of pesticides, the protection of bees and pollinators and to preserve the quality and richness of the soil.
This year, the French Government has further expanded its Energy Savings Certificate scheme to help everyone to move away from fossil fuels and improve home insulation. A dedicated website at www.faire.fr provides details (in French) on what help is available and where to find it.
The draft Mobility Orientation Bill sets the goal at 2050 for carbon neutrality in the road transport sector, with clear objectives to reduce new vehicle emissions, and to ban the sale of cars using carbon-based fossil fuels by 2040. As well as attractive conversion premiums for buyers of clean vehicles, the number of charging points will be increased five-fold by 2022.
In fact, electric vehicles are an integral part of the Government’s policy to fight both global warming and air pollution. The Environment – It’s Our World needs to look at every aspect of the problem.
As of 1 July this year, France had nearly 200,000 electric vehicles and 26,772 charging points, and electric vehicle registrations had increased by nearly 50% from the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019. The objective of L’Energie de Déploiment du Véhicule Electrique is to have 1.2 million electric vehicles in 2023 and 4.8 million in 2028. At the moment, a bonus of EUR 6,000 is offered to help households, companies or communities to acquire an electric vehicle.
Taking action – The Environment – It’s Our World
Saving energy and electricity, conserving water, reducing waste, reusing items, recycling and upcycling are just some of the ways that we can help save the environment.
First published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of The Local Buzz