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: http://www.bilancarbonepersonnel.org 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


  1. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilan_carbone_personnel

  2. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1674710,00.html

  3. HARALD WELZER “Climate Wars. What people Will Be Killed For in the 21st century”- http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745651453

  4. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Équation_de_Kaya#Utilisation

  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?” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/08/31/germany-insane-or-just-plain-stupid/ 

  8. ‘ Germany. ‘A farewell to nuclear resurrects the coal plants’ http://www.courrierinternational.com/chronique/2012/09/05/l-adieu-au-nucleaire-ressuscite-les-centrales-au-charbon
    ) 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 ?”

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