“There is a lack of a global approach that foreshadows the shape and functioning of the post-carbon city of tomorrow”

Aafter COP27, 27e conference on the climate, in Sharm El-Sheikh, all the analyzes and studies agree today on the diagnosis of the climate crisis – and now energy with the war in Ukraine -, on the causes and the catastrophic effects expected, and on the urgency to act.

On the other hand, for the remedy, we are still in the dark: formulation of pious wishes, proposals for possible measures, calls for action at national and European level, for desirable plans, still far from real answers, real solutions and concrete things that remain to be worked on and developed.

If cities and regions have been experimenting for a long time with partial responses in eco-districts, they apply local solutions on urban renaturation, urban transport, energy savings, water sobriety, relocation of food, etc. , there is a lack of a synthetic vision, a global approach which foreshadows, in its complexity, the form and operation of the post-carbon city of tomorrow.

The problem to be solved, the transition to a carbon-free society, a change of civilization, according to Bruno Latour (1947-2022) – the fossil civilization installed since the middle of the 18th centurye century and globalized since – is of enormous magnitude and extremely difficult: can economic growth and the preservation of ecosystems be compatible? Is it possible to decouple the rise in gross domestic product (GDP) from its impact on the environment? Is green growth an illusion? Is the development of renewable energies feasible despite the technical and financial limits? Should we expect everything from technological progress?

More than ten thousand researchers

These few questions reveal the complexity and extent of the problem. We will not achieve this with a wave of a magic wand, nor with virtuous declarations, indecisive speeches or additions of sectoral measures, but through a collective research effort to be organized and coordinated, through interdisciplinary research, participatory, through a private-public partnership, commensurate with the gigantic and complex environmental and societal challenges posed to achieve the ecological transition.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “The post-carbon city of tomorrow requires a total technological, economic, societal and urban upheaval”

France was able to set up, in the field of agriculture, at the end of the war, an exemplary research structure, the National Institute for Agricultural Research, created in 1946, then the National Institute for Research in and technologies for the environment and agriculture in 2012, which merged in 2020 to create the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE), in order to tackle major agricultural problems , food and ecological problems posed in the country: the food emergency and the imperative of productivity in the years 1946-1968; agronomic research with the liberal transformation of industrial societies in the period 1969-1989; new agronomic research in the era of agricultural, food and environmental globalization between 1990 and 2012; currently, the new issues related to the transition of agriculture (agroecology), the management of natural resources and ecosystems, the erosion of biodiversity, the circular economy.

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