The Biggest Loving Message You Have Ever Read

18 Avril 2017

What about adding some reason in the most irrational of our values: love? In the thin layer of atmosphere populated since yesterday morning with 7 billion inhabitants, each aspiring to our western way of life, love for our neighbors should be more than a vague feeling. Disorder threatens us and our philosophy of Enlightenment should emancipate further than 250 years ago: In this new century, for each of us, a scientific self-criticism of our own way of life have to structure the love of neighbor: Just a small time remains for a citizen waking-up as the next 5 years are the last chance to respect the 2°C of the Paris Agreement.

My Facebook feed is saturated with ‘love messages’ posted regularly by friends… Not a single day without a psychologic article or a New Age quote, explaining how to truly connect to my environment, to the other humans, to my inner self…  explaining that the planetary love must save us, or how to be in a loving harmony with the universe…

But to truly “love”, we must “understand”. And to “understand”, we need reason:

100% of the scientific community explains that we must stay below 2°C of global climate change if we want to have a chance to live in a peaceful world in the coming decades.

But in the last 50 years we thrown into an atmosphere, of the proportional thickness of the skin of an apple, half of the fossil carbon that accumulated in the subsoils for half a billion years. 

To respect the Paris agreement, we need to divide the annual greenhouse gas emissions by 3 globally, in 30 years. So at least by 5 or 6 in the case of Europe. In 2015, it was essential that the Paris agreement was signed by governments – sometimes happily without really realising what they were agreeing to – but a year and a half after, we are not at all on the good path, nor showing the example to the world. There is a huge gap between policies needed in the next 32 years to decarbonize Europe, and the debate / political action of today (1). (See below the “Decarbonize Europe Manifesto” signed by prominent figures of the economic world (2

It is hard for each of us to visualize the true origin of the problem: Isn’t it the large and medium-sized companies who pollute much more than me?? One thing is certain, the products and services produced by these companies are not produced for Martians nor sent to the Moon: The way of life of 99% of occidentals, not just the rich, produces far too much CO2.

If you want to love your neighbor: Make your carbon footprint. Bellow this article you will find online tool to calculate it precisely and quick. And you will fall off your chair seeing the results. When you thought you were green.

Or… A world of climate wars, sure option in the next decades if we continue business as usual, will mean few lucky rich ones, who will find their ways to hide from the chaos, and a big part of humans condemned to misery. (The effects of climate change will be much worse than those of other forms of pollution)

And we can hope then to be remain the lucky ones, but here is my postulate:

Be aware of this, and at the same time NOT dare to calculate in detail your annual greenhouse gas emissions, in order to understand them precisely and their proportions, and to wonder about collective solutions to reduce them, is probably the most egoistic and unloving act of all time.

The eventual lack of confidence in democracy is no longer an excuse. Economic and political solutions exist but they only start now to be discussed. This reflection is not yet stimulated by public opinion or university, and time turns very fast.

You cannot. You cannot finish to read this article and pass to the next one and think “hmm ok, I’ll calculate my carbon footprint ‘one day’ …”, and at the same time pretend that you’re a loving and caring person. You cannot do that. Or you’re faking to be an loving person. Because as we speak, every 90 seconds, a human in an emerging country is dying from climate change because of the carbon the machines of our way of life spit into the atmosphere. Every 10 seconds, an inhabitant must leave his house for the same reason. For every hour I spend on a plane, a human being dies from climate change one hour earlier, because of the emissions that my airplane seat causes individually during that hour (a quarter of a ton of CO2 equivalent per passenger per hour). …But these current small inconveniences are quite ridiculous compared to the chaos that will come, when around 2050 the average temperature of a European summer afternoon will be 43°C.

Personal Carbon Footprint:

If you are an average European with for example around 1800 or 2000 € of income per month, your lifestyle is responsible for 10 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (the double for a North American) and to have a chance to comply with the Paris agreements, you must divide your emissions at least by FIVE within 33 years, thus 1.5 to 2 tons maximum (the red line!) :exemple de bilan carbone

It is a total misbelief that our European emissions are already on the decline: curves showing that only account the metropolitan emissions, without taking into account the emissions of all our products/services imported from China and elsewhere. And the graph above is only a pale estimate if we also consider the emissions of the large-scale destruction of forests from which our consumption originated, for example in Amazonia (cereals for EU cattle) or in Indonesia (palm oil).

Chaos already in some parts of the world, Darfur war last decade, Syrian war and migration (the biggest since WW2) (3), more recently the famine of 2017 in Africa, (4) , and perhaps pakistan tomorrow, are all linked to extreme droughts due to climate change.

In the people around me, some think that it is difficult to reduce so much, but it is our only future. Some think that our economic condition is very average? In 250 years our life expectancy has passed from 23 years to 83 years ! (5) and still continue (until now) to increase. Others think that technology has to solve everything, but even with all the technique of the world, a four-year-old cannot force his parents to take him to the beach, when it’s winter and raining. Believing the big-power of progress resolve everything by clapping fingers, is precisely the belief that, in the past, made civilizations collapse.

Some wonder whether the climatic science of the coming decades is clear because we cannot predict the weather of next week: but no one criticizes the biologist who cannot predict when the next leaf of the tree will fall. Yet the tree will have lost all its leaves by the late autumn.

The Shift-Project, organization dedicated to save the planet, has just released a Decarbonize Europe Manifesto, whose humble purpose is simply to respect the Paris climate agreements. Supported by many actors of the economic world, they seek to influence French politics and European politics. Because it is France who must push Europe to decarbonise the economy, and Europe who must push the world. (Not really the america of Trump America. And according to the NASA researcher James Hansen: Obama before him did not do much )

And it’s now. In 5 or 10 years it will be too late to convince the world to respect the Paris agreement. Because to decarbonize the Western economy it is necessary to reduce emissions by 5% per year over 32 years… That is to say already, to give an idea, a rate equivalent to the energy decay during the crisis of 29.

What would have been the industrial revolution if somehow the earth’s subsoil had not stored for us the fossil carbon of half a billion seasons? The industrial revolution without hydrocarbons would have been much slower . This is thanks to the fossil carbon that we owe our sudden modernity of the last century. But it’s also a poisoned gift of nature. And thus a first big test for humankind as a species. The consequence will be the pursuit of our philosophy of enlightenment, or the return of obscurantism. From the top of our modernity, let’s contemplate our accumulated knowledge since the horizon of time. Have we grown up? Please sign the manifesto: 

Alexandre Flet – April 2017

[Update 19th of april:]  « It’s time to realise that retweeting greenpeace doesn’t lower your carbon footprint » explained Jonathan Pie in his 110 millions vues speech of the day of Trump election… The politics are not gonna do ‘the job’ until 51% of the population is convinced that ‘the job’ (decarbonising the economy by 5% per years, starting next year) is the number one priority, beyond purchasing power and cheap energy. This is maybe 3% of the population convinced today. Sure everyone totally agree with the vague ‘idea’ of fixing the climate, but they are not yet ready to want to see 60% of the political debate about this. They rather want to see 70% of the political debate talking about purchasing power and the related, and 3% time talking about climate. And this is the problem. Thus ‘your job’ is to find all the ways you can imagine to make this 51% happen. Engaging the people around you, in this civilisation, to make their online carbon footprint calculation and explanations about the global curve emissions are keys for this waking-up.



-> For residents in France: THE MICMAC . For France this is one of the best and most detailed tools. It counts all greenhouse gases, which is not the case for most calculators.

For other countries, here are some calculators quickly found on the web. But if you know of other interesting or better tools for the countries cited or for other territories, please let me know and I will modify this list (contact mail alexandrerlchp — gmail — com):

->In Germany:

-> in UK:

-> in USA: ou bien

– For other countries, you can probably find calculators, searching the web in your language, and the more accurate the tool you find, the better it will be. (There are enormous disparities of relevance between sites.)

->> Caution: Some of these tools can be linked to ‘carbon offset businesses’ that offers you to pay for supposedly ‘cancelling’ your emissions: Do not do this! First there is absolutely no guarantee in the long term, which does not make sense, and then there are many worries of principle, methodology, western domination, and nonsense in this type of activity (Which should be organised publicly not with private businesses!): You can read this: Inconvenient truth of carbon offsets.

  1. For example, a few vague proposals on the isolation of buildings from all the candidates in the French presidential elections of 2017, are very far away from the real policy of insulation of necessary housing which is described in the 9 proposals in the Decarbonize Europe Manifesto, and the same goes for the other areas of the needed decarbonation.The candidates do not really have a track to decarbonize by a factor of 5: No clear projection for the decarbonization of the economy in the next three decades. It is not a question of blaming the candidates, but simply, to understand that there is not yet a true citizen rational mobilization on the subject. Moreover, we must stop with vague political terminology such as “sustainable development”, or even “energy transition” (even if it is already much better). It is now necessary to call a cat a cat: the subject is not the sustainable development nor the energy transition (that can take many meanings according to the people who use these words) the subject is the ” decarbonization “ ! It is true that the majority of the candidates have responded to the Manifesto in an argumentative way but they do not  really undertake, as requested “ to plead with determination in the European Council to adopt before 2020 a Strategy and a plan of action commensurate with the Paris Agreement, capable of enabling the European Union to achieve a level of net greenhouse gas emissions as close as possible to zero by 2050 ”  

  2. “Decarbonize Europe Manifesto”:  

  3. Because of climate change, Scientists have foreseen, since 20 years already, a drying up of the Mediterranean perimeter: Interview with Jean-Marc Jancovici and Corinne Lepage on LCI:  

  4. In food-insecure countries in Africa, climate change has become an almost permanent factor :  

  5. This is the chart, much more relevant than GDP, to view our economic health: French life expectancy between 1750 and 2016 gradually rising from 23 to 83 years:France-1740–2015-longévité

    ( ) And curves in other ocidental countries are about the same.  

Fair Solution for an International Carbon Tax: Refund It To China.

November 29, 2015

If we apply a carbon tax at the border, on the pretext that the exporting country would tax less carbon in its own market, it is not fair that the importing country retains the revenue of this tax. This may seem surprising when thinking about it the first time, but it is more logical to refund it to the Government of the exporting country! Explanation: 

Many states of the world talk, always vaguely, about a reduction of their greenhouse gaz (GHG) emissions to a certain percentage within a certain period, but still, we need political tools to achieve real reductions. And emissions continue to increase worldwide. A true and profound reflection on these political tools is still extremely poor, while this should be the most important political subject of the 21st century.

The Carbon Tax:

Among these tools, probably the most effective and simple, because the most ‘systemic’, is a Carbon Tax on GHG emissions (detailed article), a tax progressively and strongly increasing every year, which would divide by 6 our GHG emissions in 2050 (1) to remain below the 2°C of increase in global earth temperature. (Division by 6 for Europeans, more or less for other countries) This tool is already in place in many countries but at rates that are way too low in regard to the huge goal the achieve.


This carbon tax is by far the tool that seems to be the most simple and efficient (much more than quotas) to prevent climate change… (2)… But there is a big problem, because the various countries of the world will most probably not apply all the same rate of carbon taxes (if they apply one)… And a progressive carbon tax in direction of a high rate (3) would make the various productions of the country/continent who apply it too little competitive on the world market… This would provoke then even more relocations/offshoring, to countries where the fossil energy is not taxed… As a consequence, as this has being discussed, we should then count/estimate/apply this carbon tax at the borders on all products entering the country… And then the problem would be, as this has been discussed too, that this contradicts the WTO agreements exchanges…


… unless that we propose to refund the carbon tax revenue, recorded at the border on coming products of the exporting country… …To the Government of this country!


Let’s imagine that Europe would have strong increasing carbon taxes and China not. If, for a fair international competition, we taxed gradually and strongly Chinese products with high emissions of GHG arriving in Europe (like we would tax our national products), China would not agree. And it would have a good reason to disagree, because the immense product of this tax is supposed to be redistributed in a way or another to the non-polluting part of the economy or to the citizens… And China would argue that this is unfair because the product of this tax deducted on imported products would then remain in Europe!

On the contrary, It would be logical to propose to China to refund them the revenues of this carbon tax collected on their products arriving in Europe, amount refunded directly the Chinese State. China could then use that money to reduce other taxes in its country, in fact, reverse it to non-polluting economy part, or its own citizens. This would be much more fair, and China would be much more likely to accept the deal. Since half of the Chinese activity are exports, it would implicitly settle a carbon tax to China on its exported products. And we could do the same for each country importing goods in Europe: The imports from that country would be taxed, at a well balanced amount (only if the carbon in their internal market is less taxed than in europe) and then the revenue of the tax would refunded to the government budget of that country. (4)


Each country or group of countries could then start to apply in its economy its own level of carbon tax, at the level that he thinks good for itself and for the planet. It will then also eventually start to tax the imports everytime the national carbon tax of a given exporting country is lower than its local tax, and will refund to each of those importing country the tax revenues as recorded at the border on products coming from that importing country. This should be a good way to harmonize the global economy in which the different countries or continents would experiment in different levels of carbon taxes!

Today, among the few countries that have already begun to implement a  carbon tax, it is much too weak and partial to actually to really decarbonise the economy. And if Governments have not voted a higher taxes there, this is also probably because this would disadvantage their economies on the world market… It is when it will be decided to equitably balance these taxes internationally that the countries will be able to decide to launch the necessary much higher carbone taxes. Politicians will take real decisions to effectively reduce emissions only if they have a clear vision of how to organize politically and internationally these reductions. This is far from being the case. A deep international reflection on these  economic tools is required.

Note on the past politics: Why kyoto didn’t work

In 1997 most of the countries have voted for an innovative resolution in Kyoto implementing carbon quotas, with a goal of 5% reduction in emissions by 2012 compared with 1990. The objective was still very weak. It was only to climb the first step of the staircase to the decarbonization of our economies. It is clear that at the end of the period, even this first step has not been reached!… Although some people claim the contrary: Most European countries have not reduced their emissions as promised in Kyoto, because in reality they have outsourced a large part of their consumption to China or other countries: When just dividing GHG emissions that occur within Europe, by the European population, we could have the impression that Kyoto has worked, that these emissions have been reduced. However it doesn’t work like that: We have to account the actual emissions of Europeans including consumer products they import from other countries such as China. Then we realise the GHG emissions by European have continue to grow, and still continue to grow today… While since now 10 years some Europeans politicians often repeat in elections that we will need to divide by 4 or 6 our emissions by 2050… We urgently need to fight this hypocrisy with education policies: Urgent political measures for the education to energy and climate)

Alexandre Flet – November 2015


  1. by 2 in the world, but by 6 for the Europeans… Each European emits the order of 3 tons of carbon equivalent per year, which must be brought back to 500 kilos in 2050, “factor 4” is therefore insufficient, we need to be talking about a factor 6:

  2. see main article

  3. rate of several hundred euros per ton of CO2 equivalent at the end of the progressive increase in 2050… Far from the microscopic and partial carbon tax now applied by some countries and that have virtually no effect on the scale of the necessary decarbonisation

  4. It will be sometimes complex to calculate when products are manufactured in a path through several countries, and sometimes by workers that are not necessarily locals. But if there is less tax on labour there will be less need for accountants in this area and more accountants will be able to work in the calculation of taxes on the carbon, the other greenhouse gases and the natural resources.

Political Measures for the Education to Energy and Climate.

November 29, 2015

Some have described the conference of Paris in December 2015 as the last chance to save the planet. Unfortunately, it will be very difficult for politicians to truly take the difficult necessary measures (very strong and progressive carbon taxes, see article), as long as we, citizens and voters, will remain as poorly educated at the problem of energy and climate. This is not lobbies or politicians fault:

Education is progressing but it takes time. Too much time. In our civilization without limit where everything goes so fast, here are some essential politic measures to accelerate the education of citizens to the problem of energy and climate. So that they can after understand and accept the necessary and very ambitious political measures.


MEASURE 1: “Detailed Personal Carbon Footprint calculation” for ALL school, high school and university students.

Among the instruments measuring our carbon emissions, the most detailed is probably the “Bilan Carbone Personnel” created in France by the ADEME: to (a personal carbon footprint calculator taking all into account, “from shoes purchases to skiing holidays, passing through house-heating and kebab. “(1) ) It allows in a small hour to calculate, to the precision of the gram, your greenhouse gaz emissions emitted during the year. And it have a unique essential feature: It present your result with different colors so you understand in which parts of your life you emit more… The effect is stunning on most people: Most of us believe that we are more ‘green’ than the average, and much more ‘green’ «than all these big polluting companies!» (They pollute because we want more and more cheaper products) You ride your bike and eat organic so you believe that you are not concerned? Make your ‘detailed’ carbon footprint and looking at the results you will receive a good slap. Aircraft, housing, heating, consumer products… (But for now, very few of those tools available online are actually detailed enough, unfortunately.) The important feature of this instrument, and that makes it unique, and that the results are divided into several colors and categories, which allows to have a precise on its programming vision. This instrument exists only for individuals and for France, but it is necessary that it become developed in each country of the world, and to calculate and observe not only the footprint of an individual but also of a family. So each student of Europe (and the world) could simply calculate the carbon footprint of his own family by asking his parents the heating and gasoline bills, and various odds and ends… In 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy asked school teachers to read each year, in all the schools of France, the letter of Guy Moquet (2), 17-year-old soldier shot during the second world war, under the pretext that the ‘memory’ would prevent future wars… It will be far more useful, in order to avoid wars, instead of the letter of Guy Moquet that teachers actually did not want, to require all students to make the carbon footprint of their family. (as well as college students and students) (3) It is 20 years that we hope that decisions be taken to limit climate change, and 20 years that global GHG emissions continue to rise each year. Apply this measure in all the schools and universities of the world, and two years later we will have 3 times more chance that political decisions will be taken at European and worldwide levels.

MEASURE 2: Create a new subject ‘Energy and climate’, taught in all schools.

So we invented the compulsory military service at certain times to allow citizens to defend their nation when the time comes… So why wouldn’t we ask to the school students and students to spend one hour per week on a problem threatening our civilization? Germany, Europe’s richest country, neighbourhood of Munich, one of Germany’s richest regions, friends of 18 and 19 years freshly out of the high-school exams, very awake and intelligent, coming from a good high school, telling me, when I talk to them about the issue of energy and climate: “but the oil is all the time reformed automatically in the rock, isn’t it? ” Ouch. If such dramatic ignorance on the most serious of the subject is possible in such high socio-cultural categories, i means there is a very very very very big problem of education, and it is extremely urgent to address it.

The extent of the coming climate catastrophe should be taught, in much more convincing way than today. (Detailed article)

MEASURE 3: Teach the KAYA EQUATION in all schools an universities.

This equation allows to easily understand the evolution of the global emissions of CO2 by expressing them as the product of 4 factors: population, GDP per capita, energy intensity, and CO2 content of the energy: Here is an article with an ANIMATED APP… At the bottom of the article, there is an animation to manually vary the parameters of this equation. This kind of educational tool must be widespread. They allow in a few seconds to see two things: At which point our current lifestyles are unsustainable. And secondly that we are not at all on the right train to make them sustainable.

For example, here is an extension of current trends
(Current trends: note (4) )…Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 10.59.50

…that sends chills up the spine: A multiplication of global emissions by nearly 3 in 2050 while we should be dividing by 3: Humans are currently in the opposite direction to the one they must take to limit the increase to 2ºC maximum, limit that they decided already 6 years ago, in 2009 in Copenhagen. (5)

And here is an example of trends that we can think about to save the planet:

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 03.21.21

(We need less growth, manage to multiply by 3 or 4 the decline in the ‘energy intensity of the economy’ at a worldwide level, urgently restart the decrease of the ‘content in CO2 of the energy’ consumed worldwide (meaning stop immediately to build coal power plants!) )

MEASURE 4: Prohibit the ‘Carbon Compensation’/’Carbon Neutrality’

It is necessary to prohibit any company (most of the time, transport companies) to offer carbon offsets to individuals in order to ease their conscience: We have to ban the box “neutralize the CO2 emissions of your ride for one euro more!” when ones makes his plane or train ticket reservation. This doesn’t mean that we should stop to fund few alternative GHG reduction projects in ‘developing’ countries, but we need to arrange this at states or companies level, and prohibit making a trade of it for the individuals:

How do you want that people accept the necessary laws to pay taxes of several hundred Euros tomorrow on GHG emissions, if it seems possible to erase flights or train trips emissions for just one additional Euro? … Airlines offer you to finance some GHG reduction projects in countries that already emit very few: We are 20% of rich to emit 80% of the GHG. And we claim to ask those who emit the remaining 20% to emit even less… This desensitise seriously citizens and politics, giving the dangerous impression that climate change is an infinitely small « Climate change? Man, you can just add 1 Euro to solve the problem! So, it’s the fault of multinationals and Governments who make no effort! » …Yann Arthus Bertrand decided to offset the emissions caused by the plane-shooting of his documentary on the planet, investing in few alternative GHG reduction projects, well ok, it may be a good thing. The problem is that he says publicly and proudly that he offsets his emissions for a few Euros, and even encourages citizens do the same when they take a plane. These marginal and very cheap offsets are misleading. They work only because they are very marginal at the world scale. They prevent us from taking the necessary ambitious political decisions.

In some countries like Germany, similar carbon neutral programmes are offered for the « For just 1,00 EUR extra, you travel with 100% green power on all Deutsche Bahn long-distance trains. » This is an insane lie. I would sue them for this. Electricity is the same for all passengers, and all the electrical network! For this to be meaningful, it is necessary that you get off the train when the wind drops… (at the time when the German wind turbines stop) …And, eventually, you can get back in a train, if the wind starts to blow again… And moreover here again, pretend to use only the windmills electricity from the network when the wind blows, it would only work because it is in a minority on the network (even though Germany has invested 300 billion € in renewable energy, wind turbines represents only 10% of its electricity. And wind-generated electricity is so intermittent that it often destabilizes the European electrical network, so in proportion, It will be a hard thing to increase it further.)

Also should be prohibited the advertising of industrial products as ‘beautifully ecological’ (typically the hybrid-cars) And the huge display on electric cars of the slogans: “ZERO CO2”: How many people in Germany know that the GHG emissions of an electric car, are in fact exactly the same as those of a diesel car? (and in France, it’s still half of a diesel, so also far from zero) (Carbon emissions take place at the level of electricity production, instead of out of the car’s exhaust pipe: source)

MEASURE 5: Massive subsidies of detailed documentaries and educational advertisements, and in other media, about education for climate and energy

It takes a massive education energy because it is the blood of our economy. In general, the knowledge of the citizens in this matter is very partial or about zero. The subject is a little complex but apprehendable. It is impossible to live ‘as now’ with only clean energies which would replace the fossils ones at the same level of consumption. (6)
It is the fault of the ignorance of the voters about energy, that, at the moment in Germany, 20 Gigawatts of gas and coal power are currently under construction to replace 20 Gigawatts of nuclear power. (7)
)) (8) )

To initiate the unlocking of economic systems, we must first unlock consciousness. Well before strong laws, the easiest thing to change is education. More time passes where we continue to do almost nothing change our ways of living and thinking, more the possibility of a violent transition is increasing. And it is especially us, Western world, who should set an example because we started to develop the first. We must advocate for a massive and fast implementation of educational political measures such as above. And after – maybe 2 or 4 years later – the ambitious required laws will pass in the parliaments of the world like a letter in the post.

Alexandre Flet – November 2015




  3. HARALD WELZER “Climate Wars. What people Will Be Killed For in the 21st century”-


  5. Increase of 2°C global temperature in 2050: Maximum rise to have a chance to keep a peaceful world, Rise beyond which scientists predict many unpredictable weather disasters, and the maximum increase “decided” in Copenhagen in 2009 by the governments of the world.

  6. We sometimes think that technology will save us, but there is a big difference between technology and energy. While technology has made miraculous and exponential progress, energy has made relatively little progress since prehistory: Early humans used fire and today we are still using the combustion of carbon, coal gas, oil, and even wood, for 80% of our global energy production… Renewable energy will never replace across the planet, our fossil fuels, at our current consumption level. (Unless a improbable and miraculous scientific discovery tomorrow of a very efficient way to store electricity for very few resources in materials)

  7. “Germany – Insane Or Just Plain Stupid?” 

  8. ‘ Germany. ‘A farewell to nuclear resurrects the coal plants’
    ) And today, this handicap seriously the discussions about the decarbonisation of the economy in Europe. (And the debate on nuclear power cannot be separated from the debate on the amount of energy we want to consume ( ((To read urgently! -> English Version: Discussing a couple common statements on nuclear energy – Version française: A propos de quelques objections fréquentes sur le nucléaire civil – …And projects (even official) of replacements of electricity “to the same level of consumption” and “without fossil and without nuclear” are far-fetched far-fetched: “Could we live as today with just renewable energy ?”

A Massive Tax on Carbone and Resources, New Motto of the 21st century

November 29, 2015

Since 20 years that the world talk about reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they still continue to rise. Reflection on political tools to reduce our emissions should be the major political subject in the beginning of the 21st century. This reflection is still very poor.

This article briefly explains why we must massively refocus taxes on carbon and natural resources, rather than on the work of humans. I believe this is the only way to save this planet. It offers also a few original ideas. And it also shows that, regardless of its necessity, this ambitious economic metamorphosis would make our life better for all of us!


As it has been repeatedly explained (1), the subsidy to exemplary actions does not work in our market economies: 2 examples: In France, the better insulation of the houses didn’t change anything to the global houses-heating consumption of french houses, because at the same time, the surface of house per person increased by 50% over the past decades. Cars, trains and even planes, are more efficient than before in energy, but there are always more goods and people that travel… And about ‘rules and regulations’, they have the same above problem as subsidies, they can accompany a growing tax on carbon, but alone, they will not reduce enough our emissions. Moreover, with rules/regulations, only the government ‘think’ about the way to reduce emissions. While with a carbon tax, everyone can think about the best way for himself to reduce this or that given emission!

On the other hand, education of citizens to exemplary behaviours cannot not work either: When we buy a product, it is impossible to know how much greenhouse gas (GHG) was emitted, and how much energy has been used, during its production. For each of the products we buy, we should spend 3 hours on the Internet, and go have an eye in the factory, to have this information.

Chocolate paste more expensive than caviar

If we would account, to a fair amount, the CO2 emissions from forest fires in Indonesia (those forest are peatlands, meaning non-decomposed organic soils which burn for months…) that are taking place this year , in the import of palm-oil price, we would have surprises. (and why not also count the loss of biodiversity) Legally or illegally, the forest is burned at an astronomical speed to become in plantations of palm-oil trees. (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) Mostly consisting of palm oil, the famous Nutella paste sold in 2015 would become very very very expensive… Would it become more expensive than caviar? Given the enormity of the fires in 2015, it is likely. (8) (9)


The carbon tax would be somehow the ‘ENERGY GLASSES’ to see the carbon content of products. (Or at least to feel it in the prices.) (10)

It would be a tax which would gradually replace the other types of taxes, that, in general, pressure on the people’s work… Why did we tax the work? Because this was the simplest way: We simply placed taxes at the points of money-transfers: When someone receives a salary, or when we sell a product (which is another way of taxing labour, somehow) From all points of view, a tax on natural resources would be a much better thing than the taxes on the work. (see below: Accessory positive effets of the carbon tax)

It would be a tax on GHG emissions (and eventually other environmental treats, see bellow), with a very strong but very progressive rate, applied on all of the consumer goods and services of all types, without exception. Because the exceptions always have perverse effects (11). This would be much more efficient and easier to implement than the carbon markets / quotas, which do not really work… (disadvantages of the carbon markets: Note (12) )

Different countries, including France, have already settled a carbon tax, but at ridiculously low levels in regard to the objective to be achieved, and they apply to very partial areas of the economy. It is difficult to imagine a real efficiency of the tax to decarbonize our economy below SEVERAL HUNDREDS OF EUROS FOR A TON OF CO2. (or equivalent for other greenhouse gases) but obviously this rate should be very gradual and increasing year by year over 30 years. (A big unknown remains: How much should actually be the level of this tax to divide by 6 by 2050 our greenhouse gas emissions?) (13)

« What? Several hundred euros per tonne of CO2? While I can pay 1 euro more to ‘neutralise’/’compensate’ my emissions from a flight or train-trip? (by checking the appropriate box when booking the ticket online) » These emissions offsets are grossly misleading, and should be banned. (See chapter “Prohibit the Carbon Compensation” in the article on education) Question: How many meter-cube of CO2 equivalent are emitted into the atmosphere for a round trip Europe / South America? Answer: 4 Olympic swimming pools of CO2… by passenger. Yes, this means 1600 Olympic pools of CO2 for a 400 passenger flight. (Incredible? Calculation in the note: (14) )

« But the Renewable Energies ? »

Because of the very strong ‘intermittency’ of renewable energies, and their extremely diffuse distribution while the hydrocarbon is a highly concentrated energy, it is not sure that the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable can constitute a major part of the GHG reduction worldwide. It is much more likely that the reduction will be made by energy savings rather than energy replacements. In fact, if we look closely, the same Euro used in energy savings avoids at least 10 times more CO2 than the one invested in renewable energies. Anyway, this is not the most important topic: Who cares if at the end the success of the GHG reduction was made rather thanks to energy savings or renewable energies? Thanks to taxes on GHG, every citizen, every business, will be able to think on its own level, to the best way to change its habits: Less consumption of energy in such case, or either a less CO2 emitting energy in the other case.

What Natural Resources ?

In the case of greenhouse gas, the natural resource to preserve is the atmosphere that is warming. But the fossil carbon that we extract from the ground is also a precious natural resource that we shouldn’t waste too quickly: A single litre of gasoline, it is the same mechanical energy than a slave who would energetically bicycle during 10 days. (15) And many people speak of a carbon tax as a ‘systemic’ approach to the problem of energy and climate. But in a really systemic approach, we should also consider to integrate into this tax system ALL the natural resources, whatever they are. Because greenhouse gases cuts shouldn’t turn into increased pollution in other areas: For example: The manufacture of gigantic metal magnets for wind turbines, requires a phenomenal amount of “rare-earths metals”, with at the end an horrible chemical pollution in certain mines in China, comparable to Chernobyl pollution (Source: (16). We must integrate other environmental pollutions in these «taxes on resources», at the international level. On a planet so largely dominated and transformed by the men, the management of externalities should start to be automated: This should no longer be the judge to charge a polluter for his pollution. This should be the state-official who should estimate the impact of an activity on natural resources, and tax this activity accordingly, when this activity starts.

Injustice, and Possible Solutions: A zero VAT Tax on Food, etc.

Studies (source: Note (17) show that more modest social-classes spend a greater proportion of their income in good that are rich in energy and in petroleum products (18). (Higher classes are more likely to live downtown close to their work, and use proportionately more services, that are a less intense in GHG than basic needs.) So the increase in the cost of energy tends to affect more the poor than the rich.

To counteract this, some have proposed that the national product (in the case of a nation) of this carbon tax, rather than to be offset by the decrease of other taxes, should rather be donated to each citizen in the form of an identical amount of money redistributed to everyone. In the case of a strong carbon tax, this would be in fact almost the same thing as a ‘Universal income’ or ‘Basic Income’ idea, an idea to fashion nowadays since Finland is experimenting it. In an infinite world, and philosophically, it’s a beautiful idea. But in our limited planet, and where the energy will start to miss (80% of our energy is fossil), is it wise to encourage citizens to do nothing, or to make children if it don’t know how to meet their needs later?

Here may be a better idea to offset the disadvantage for the modest social-classes about a strong carbon tax: Progressively lower VAT tax on products of first necessity. For example to lower the VAT tax on food (Note: This will not lower the price of meat! (19) And actually, because methane emitted by cows, at the same time of having an extreme greenhouse effet, stays only 12 years in the atmosphere, then the first easiest tax to lower temperature is the one on beef.)
The VAT tax on food you pay at the supermarket is for example, already low in Europe, with a rate of 5-7%. Then, over the years, as we would increase on the one hand the carbon tax, and reduce on the other hand the taxes on income and at the same time this VAT tax on food (and other basic things), at a fair rate, then probably, rather quickly, we can imagine that this VAT tax on food become null.
(making it negative would likely produce perverse effects). After this point, we could then drop other taxes or health insurances that modest social-classes still pay, or increase some ’employment tax credits’ to support modest workers.

Those mesures would permit to offset more fairly the cost of the carbon tax for modest households.

Carbon Tax Impossible at the International Level ? A Solution:

If the countries of the world apply different rates of carbon taxes – it is difficult to imagine that they would apply all the same – then the country applying a high carbon tax would tend to deal with a lot of offshoring/relocations of their high GHG emitting activities in countries that have lower carbon taxes. If they decide to apply the same tax at the border on imported goods, other countries will strongly disagree… In fact, It is not fair that the importing country keep for itself the revenue of this tax. This may seem surprising, but it is more logical to refund it to the Government of the exporting country! Explanation: Fair Solution for an International Carbon Tax: REFUND IT TO CHINA.



A large part of the taxes weight, directly or indirectly, on the work. There is a better way to organize the taxes on human activities. Until today, to increase the production of a product or service, it is cheaper to always minimize men’s work (because this is what has been increasingly taxed), and maximize consumption or destruction of natural resources, since they are, up to now, still very few taxed. Not only the metamorphosis of the tax would solve the unbearable pressure on resources, but it would also produce a certain number of positive effects on our life every day.

Let’s look at some examples:

Less unemployment

This is as simple as this: If men’s work is comparatively less taxed than resources and machines, it will be encouraged.

Vacuum cleaner manufactured or repaired?

When one of our device fails, it is today very rare that we seek to repair it: Nothing encourages us to do so: It is much cheaper to buy a new vacuum cleaner! Find a repairman to repair would be much more expensive! Because human labour of the repairer taking special care of one vacuum cleaner is heavily taxed. While the energy of the fast machines which manufactures (and transports over long distances) quantities of new vacuum cleaners is not. Metamorphosing the economy to tax the resources rather than the work, we will do what common sense dictates: Bring to the repairman at the corner our everyday objects instead of all the time buying new objects that we are forced to throw away all the time.

Drill bought or rented?

In the same way, rather than buying a drill because I need to make a hole in a wall, instead of accumulating possessions, full of objects that I only use 3 times a year, I could rent it to a rental place or neighborhood cooperative who would rents these objects. Because, in the same way, the work of the rental guy, and even, why not, of the one who would comes to bring the objects to people’s places, will become cheaper compared to the manufacture of 100 times more objects for each citizen who use them only 3 times a year. Obviously if I borrow the object to my neighbor it’s still better, and if the work of software developers as becomes cheaper that the purchase of new objects, then there is more chance than an effective ‘smart app’ get invented to list and exchange objects between neighbors. And then I could also more easily try and use objects that I would never have thought to buy. Possessing many personal things that I have no time to use, is it really a human progress?

Untasty and Contaminated Agriculture, or Nutritive one?

Hyper-industrial agriculture, which destroys the soils, consumes a lot of energy, produce many greenhouse gases, poisons our food and biodiversity by its automated approach of treatment against insects with mass spraying of hundred of insecticides, will be disadvantaged by taxes on the GHG emissions and the destruction of natural resources. Agricultures that are on human scale, asking for a little more labour to observe and gradually treat the agro-ecosystem, take care of the living-being that this system is, and producing food of far better nutritional quality, will be then encouraged in comparison. Also thanks to a decrease in taxes on labour. Compared to industrial agriculture, the new agricultures of permaculture type and so, are more intelligent and advanced scientifically in the study of agro-ecosystems. And if one takes into account all nutritional, health and environmental factors, industrial agriculture is actually not cheaper than the bio. (20) (21) And the amount of meat we eat in the developed countries, in addition of being responsible for one-quarter of our GHG emissions, is unsustainable and harmful at all levels. (22)

Relocation, human scale economy:

If you count what costs in GHG emissions the transport of goods over very long distances, we will have a more local and human economy, less quantitative, and more qualitative. With at all levels encouraged human exchanges, because of the work less taxed in comparison. Entertainment or the local show would be also benefit in concurrence to industrial tourist trips by flight travel.


It must be understood what this metamorphosis means: This cannot be to live ‘as now’ with clean energies that would replace the fossils at the same level of consumption. We need to divide by 6 our personal greenhouse gas emissions in 30 years, and this will gradually change many things in our everyday life: Less long-distance travels of all kinds (and much less flights), much less meat, much smaller cars, less fast obsolete technology, and many other things. The effort is very important…

… It’s a transformation of our daily lives during the next 30 years much more important than during the past 30 years.

Apart from a climate catastrophe, we have no other choices. Unfortunately, in our world that have grow a little too fast, the citizens of the world are not yet prepared for thoses choices and what it imply. Unfortunately, politicians will not reach tomorrow morning to settle the necessary laws to reverse the curve of global emissions of GHG from January 2016… But they can immediately settle the most urgent measures, key to the others: Political Measures for the Education to Energy and Climate. (Detailed article)

Alexandre Flet – November 2015


  1. “Le Plein s’il vous plait!”:

  2. Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away? –




  6. “Carbon emissions from the fires, at their peak, surpassed emissions belched out by the entire United States of America.” –

  7. Indonesia’s Fire Outbreaks Producing More Daily Emissions than Entire US Economy:

  8. “Carbon emissions from the fires, at their peak, surpassed emissions belched out by the entire United States of America.” –

  9. Indonesia’s Fire Outbreaks Producing More Daily Emissions than Entire US Economy:

  10. How much fossil energy has been used to manufacture this a clothe or product, and then to transport it? (today it is not uncommon that the different stages of production takes place in different continents

  11. perverse effects
    hardly controllable: For example at the time when setting some tax on fuel in France in the 1970s, diesel has been less taxed than gazoline so that it would not to interfere too much the activity of the few diesel trucks and tractors… 40 years later, the car companies have reached to built small diesel engine into small cars, and now the vast majority of cars are diesel because of this exception!

  12. the disadvantages of carbon markets are rather well explained and sourced in the Wikipedia article, chapter “Criticisms” even if I do not agree with the first paragraph:

  13. Should we not move gradually towards a tax which, by 2050, would multiply by 6 the cost of a strongly emitting product or service? (for example 6 times more expensive for a plane ride, or a tank of gas?) For a given purchasing power, the price of these things must rise so that their consumption is divided by 6. Would these things exit the market well before that we multiply their price by 6? Some people propose a multiplication by 2. But a multiplication by 2 of the price of gasoline by 2050 is sufficient? For gasoline, it may be that oil will start to run out soon. But unfortunately there is too much coal on the Earth to hope that the shortage save us from climate change. (Coal can also be liquefied in cars) It will be probably difficult to predict in advance but we can probably readjust carbon taxes each year, depending on the last year GHG emissions: If the path is not in the good direction, we can then accelerate the metamorphosis of the tax.

  14. For each of the passenger on a one-way flight from Paris to Buenos Aires, you need to ship 300 kg of kerosene in the plane. 5 times its own weight, for a 60 Kg person. This kerosene, as well as the oxygen in the air equivalent to 16 times the weight of the passenger will react together during the flight, to form 15 times its weight in CO2 as well as 6 times its weight in water vapour, which are released in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The combination of the effects of these gases emitted at this high altitude (the steam at very high altitudes has a very important effect) added to accessory emissions as for example the manufacture of kerosene, produces the same effect on the climate than 2.7 tons of CO2 emitted on the ground (“equivalent CO2”) which is like 45 times the weight of the passenger. For a round-trip flight, multiply the amounts by 2. 2700 * 2 = 5400 kg of CO2 equivalent. As it 2 meter cube per Kg of CO2 we have: 5400 * 2 = 10800 m3. So 4 Olympic swimming pools of 2500 m3. A tango dancer on holiday, it is much worse than an American in 4×4.

  15. … and it is this incredible concentration of energy that is the source of modern industrial revolution and our high standard of living.



  17. Neuhoff, k. (2008). “Tackling Carbon: How to price carbon for climate policy” (PDF). Electricity Policy Research Group. Retrieved August 30,2009.


  18. Because basic needs, as heating the house, or use a car to go to work when you live far away, are often the needs that are strong GHG emitters.

  19. this would produce a decline in the price of less GHG emitting food, like local vegetables, because others, particularly industrial meat, strong GHG emitter, would thus be increasingly taxed by the carbon tax.



  22. It takes at least 7 vegetal protein to produce 1 animal protein. And it would take 4 planets to be able to feed all those animals, if the 3/4 of the least developed world wanted to consume the same amount of meat as an European. There are a few thousand years, our hunter-gatherer needed a lot of surface for each, so that the wild nature could regenerate in edible plants and wild animals: Before the emergence of agriculture, the population of hunter-gatherers that Europe was capable to host, was of approximately 300,000 people. (…/dp/2253118605) With the invention of agriculture, and its vegetal proteins (see “food pairs” depending on the types of agriculture in different regions of the world:é_essentiel#Les_paires_alimentaires ), we have learned to feed us much more efficiently with much less area required for each human being: On the same European continent, we are then passed to 30 million inhabitants: The emergence of agriculture, the ‘Neolithic revolution’, including its replacement of proteins of wild animals, with vegetal proteins, allowed a multiplication by 100 of the human population on the same territory! (certainly there was also animal-farming, but until very recently, we consumed meat only 1 to 3 times a week) The Neolithic revolution is therefore a revolution “of economy”: It is an amazing advance that each human needed 100 times less surface to live! Then we come to another revolution, the “industrial revolution”, and as an extension of it, in the 20th century, we increased by 5 the consumption of meat by European. (100 kg of meat per European per year on average) By replacing again vegetal proteins by animal proteins, we therefore needed to re-multiply farmland needed to feed each human… And in fact, half of the food eating by European animals is coming from other continents: We would be unable to feed all the animals you want to eat after, with only the cereal of the European fields… Is it an evolution or a regression?

2 Data to Haunt Your Nights With the Climate Change

November 29, 2011

Let’s make it simple. Everyone understands that the climate change is bad, but the majority of the citizens do not understand its seriousness for our civilization. It’s because they don’t have the right data. Let’s have look at 2 good simple data about climate change. Ignorance makes climate change ‘one subject among others’ in medias and political discourses, while it must urgently become the central subject of any political or societal daily discourse.


We already increased the average temperature of the planet by 0.7°C, and at the planet Earth’s scale, this is already enormous: According to a report by the Global Humanitarian Forum, leaded by Kofi Annan (1), this causes already 300,000 dead annually and millions of displaced persons per year. (Examples: largest storms in Bangladesh brings sea water inland and make fertile fields become salty, and in Africa climate change accelerates desertification, people are struggling to feed their families, and must go live elsewhere.)


If we suppose a theoretical average of 3 million displaced persons per year (average probably optimistic because this report of GHF (2) ) is a little old and the temperature continues to rise), then it is 30 million people to relocate each decade. We are 1 billion rich people, mainly in Europe and North America, to be responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions, so it would be logically to us to find a way to accommodate them in a way or another. To make it more concrete, let’s imagine that we welcome these people in our own buildings: 30 million for 1 billion, this means that in your building of about 70 people for example, we should accommodate 2 new climate refugees in every decade. If you count the last 15 years and the next 30 years, we now have a dozen refugees in your building of 70 people. Unfortunately the planetary troubles will not be proportional to the global warming but exponential: If your body temperature increases by 0.7°C, you may feel a little tiredness but it will be ok. If it increases by 3ºC you have a huge fever and are not operational. For the ecosystems it’s the same, 3°C is absolutely huge. Instead of 3 million refugees per year, we will probably need to plan on a minimum of 15 or 50 million… So finally in 20 or 30 years in your building of 70 people you will rather probably need to welcome between 30 and 80 climate refugees. You will probably need to add an individual bed in your room, if not a double bed.

This is not gonna fucking work. Way before than totalitarian laws will require you to accommodate forever a family of refugees in your home, peace in the world will have time to explode several times. And there will be no walls high enough in the case we would choose to isolate ourselves. In the context of today we sometimes fear religious or political extremism. But these extremists are not cause of chaos, they are the consequence (3) of the chaos. (4) In his book “Climate Wars” (5), Harald Welzer explain, for example about the 1 million people genocide in Rwanda, how racist ideas were born due to a too big stress on resources and the difficulty for the population to feed her children. We can sing “Imagine” by John Lennon as much as we will like, no humanist philosophy can resist hunger. When a region of the world will start to lack fossil fuels (6), well, we will probably need to gradually ‘deindustrialize’ the very energy intensive agriculture, to reinvent smaller types of agricultures like permaculture, requiring more labor. Labour is not the biggest problem. But if at the same time the climate change too fast? What would happen if large countries possessing nuclear weapons started to be hungry? Would they let us in peace behind our walls?

In the past, the Earth’s climate repeatedly changed, as well before and after the emergence of hominids. But today the change we trigger is 50 times faster than others: Several degrees in less than a century. Already, some scientists cry publicly speaking of possible feedback loops of the climate, like for example the Permafrost which seems to melt in the cold regions freeing some colossal amounts of methane. Yes, the atmospheric methane is degraded within a few years by the action of the Sun, but a 10-year-old child can understand that if a very large amount is released 50 times faster than during the past climatic cycles of our planet, then a very strong mystery hangs over the real increase in temperatures in the coming decades. Do current political discussions on the number of degrees more that we would decide, in function of the number of ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere that we would emit, really have the meaning that we give them? Of course we must try to predict the future in some way, but we must also understand that we have a very vague idea of what it will be made of, in terms of rapid migration of ecosystems (7), climate refugees, climate wars and feedback loops either natural or linked to these wars. Aren’t those famous reports seeking to quantify financially the future damages of climate change absurd and indecent?

Wrong direction

In 2009 in Copenhagen we have ‘decided’ to keep global warming below 2°C. This involve slowing down our emissions by 900 million tCO2e each year. (to achieve a division by 3 of global emissions by 2050) However since 2009, we continue to speed up by 700 million tCO2e annually. We are moving away, each year a little faster, from the goal to reach. (See diagrams: (8)) James Hansen, ex-head of a NASA institute, explains: « The longer we wait, the more difficult it becomes. If we’d started in 2005, It would have required the emissions reductions of 3% per year to (…) stabilize climate this century. If we’d start next year, it is 6% per year. If we wait 10 years, we will have to decrease by 15% per year. Extremely difficult and expensive, perhaps impossible [in a world at peace]. But we aren’t even starting. » (9)

If you live in a rather fragile house knowing there are 5% of chance that it collapses, you will probably have trouble sleeping and make a lot of nightmare at night. It isn’t of terrorists that we should have nightmares, but of climate change. (10) Depending on the beliefs of the scientific or political expert speaking, we may eventually have between 1% and 50% chance that our world completely collapses. (11)

If an architect build a house explaining that there are 10% of chance that it will totally collapse, nobody will buy this house. But it is – exactly – the world we are building for our children and our future years.

Alexandre Flet – November 2015 Solutions for climate change


  1. «Human Impact Report – Climate Change (2009) – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis »

  2. «Human Impact Report-Climate Change (2009) – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis ”

  3. The Arab springs (partly at the origin of the war in Syria) have been initiated by a very high price on cereals in 2011 because of very poor harvests due to climate change.

  4. “How Climate Change is Behind the Surge of Migrants to Europe”:

  5. HARALD WELZER “Climate Wars. What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century” –

  6. we sometimes think that technology will save us, but there is a big difference between technology and energy. While technology has made miraculous and exponential progress, energy has made relatively little progress since prehistory: Early humans used fire and today we are still using the combustion of carbon, coal gas, oil, and even wood, for 80% of our global energy production… Renewable energy will never replace, across the planet, our fossil fuels, at our current consumption level. (Unless a improbable and miraculous scientific discovery tomorrow permitting to very efficiently store huge amounts of electricity and using very few resources in materials

  7. climate change already too fast for the migration of ecosystems: Gilles Boeuf at 7:00 minutes in the video ‘2 degrees before the end of the world’: htts://

  8. See the 2 diagrams in the chapter “Measure 3: Kaya Equation” in the article about education.

  9.  “James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change” :

  10. «Why Climate Change and Terrorism Are Connected»:


‘La taxe carbone n’est pas une taxe’

This article is not translated from the french one, because it is about a discussion on the french terminology, “Taxe” in french having a slightly different meaning than “tax” in english. (“taxe” is more close to “fee”, while “impôt” means “tax”. So the french expression “Taxe carbone” can lead a wrong idea that with the ‘carbon tax’, there would a fee to pay ‘something’, while it’s just a general ‘tax’, that have to be compensated by the lowering of other taxes, like the ones on the labor.)

Alexandre Flet – November 2015