The Climate Conference, an exercise in direct democracy via the Internet



Containment and social networks condemn democracy? Are murderous tweets and the society of commentary irremediably replacing the serene debate, the confrontation of facts and ideas? Not necessarily. On the contrary, we can take advantage of the confinement and ubiquity that the Internet allows to revive democracy, as the Climate Conference has just demonstrated.

Everything was born from an observation: with the Citizen’s Climate Convention, we missed out on a great opportunity to renew collective reflection on the fight against global warming. The members of the Convention, trapped by their mandate, by the progress of the work and by the experts assigned to them, have accumulated proposals whose impact has not been assessed, and the bill that opposes today the “realists”, who have trimmed all the proposals that displeased the many lobbies, and the “environmentalists”, who would like to return “without filter” to the Convention’s proposals, are getting the wrong fight.

→ LARGE FORMAT. The climate law, the first step in a delicate transition

In November 2020, therefore, we published in Ouest-France a call for debate to finally get out of hypocrisy and ask ourselves how to assume with regard to our international commitments a real obligation of result. The response to the call prompted us, without financial means and without institutional support, to effectively organize this debate: a cycle of nine videoconferences spread over two months to discuss the responsibility of our societies with regard to the climate. and the policies to be put in place to assume it.

From February to April 2021, every Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., curfew helping, seven speakers per session, the best on the subject, and a hundred people in the virtual room. Unimaginable without confinement, the habit of remote exchanges and the discipline of work that this requires. Together, it has made it possible to build a body of knowledge and unique reflections, available through social networks and on the site www.assisesduclimat.fr.

It is impossible here to do justice to the sixty experts who have lent themselves to the exercise, from representatives of the Citizen’s Climate Convention to the Director General of the Climate at the European Council, including the President of the High Council for the Climate, the president of ADEME, the creator of the Climate Economics chair, the director of the Toulouse School of Economics, the co-chair of the Greens group in the European Parliament or the former Minister of the Environment, Corinne Lepage .

Our main conclusions

Our responsibility? It stems above all from our standard of living and is reflected in the ecological footprint of society, wherever GHG emissions occur. We must reduce this footprint to 2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per capita per year by 2050, ie a rate of reduction of the footprint of 5% per year for 30 years.

This obligation of result must have an effective legal translation, which is not the case now. Hence the proposal to adopt a European Convention on Human Responsibilities, supplementing the European Convention on Human Rights.

The right political level at which to define our obligation of result is indeed the European Union. But due to the role of regions and territories in leading the transition, only one multilevel governance will make it possible to coordinate efforts between the EU, states, regions and territories.

Finally, reducing the ecological footprint requires the emergence of sustainable and equitable sectors: consumers must not only choose products but mainly production processes, which are decisive in the ecological footprint and the effective traceability of emissions throughout. along the chains.

And how to achieve the result to which we are committed? Three families of solutions have been identified: carbon taxation; a range of investments and sector policies; individual quotas that are equal for all and negotiable. Each was screened against four criteria. The ability to effectively implement the obligation of result; assess the total ecological footprint; to reconcile reduction of the ecological footprint and social justice and to decouple the search for the well-being of all and reduction of the ecological footprint; to mobilize all public and private actors.

→ ANALYSIS. Climate law: “low emission zones” soon to be more numerous

As much as the first two families of solutions were familiar, the third, which consists in allocating to each citizen an equal annual emission quota for all and that each can buy or sell to the others, was for many participants and speakers. a real discovery… especially since it turned out to be by far the most relevant, responding positively to these four criteria.

Two months to ask the right questions, identify the alternatives, compare points of view, conclude, radically shift the issue at the end of a demanding dialogue that respects the points of view of others. Isn’t that the essence of democracy?

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