Will the summer of 2022 accelerate France’s efforts to fight climate change? | France News

The summer of 2022 was a record-breaking season, marked by multiple heatwaves, wildfires and severe droughts. These extreme weather events seem to have raised awareness of climate change among the French. But will there be any concrete action after this?

Heatwaves, fires, droughts, violent storms… The summer of 2022 broke all records. With temperatures 2.3 degrees above normal for the season, it was the second warmest summer recorded in mainland France since 2003, according to the Meteo France on 30 August. The French National Weather Service also warned that these summers could become the norm in the coming decades.

On the same day, the Minister of Energy Transition, Agnes Pannier-Runcher, appeared on France Inter and pointed to the “major meteorological hazards”, droughts and mega-fires, as well as the “health consequences” they cause.

“Experts are very clear on the subject, (…) the summer of 2022 is probably the best that you have experienced or will experience in the next 20 years,” she said.

In recent days, a number of surveys have shown that more French people are making links between this summer’s extreme events and global warming, fearing to affect them personally and are willing to adapt their behaviour. Huh.

according to a YouGov Poll For HuffPost, 9 out of 10 French people see a link between extreme weather events and global warming, and are ready to adapt their behavior. Odoxa Institute conducted a survey for France Blue Which shows that more than 7 out of 10 French people (71%) are afraid of being personally affected by climate events.

2003 Deja Vu?

Last summer, global warming became a reality for the French, who are expressing their concern about extreme weather change.

Certainly they have not been spared. This summer, France experienced three heatwaves, one of which was in early June; The drought was exacerbated by heat and lack of rain; Violent storms and wildfires ravaged many regions across France.

Jean Jouzel, a climatologist and former vice president of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), noted that public awareness is increasing, as she is receiving more requests from companies and associations for conferences and media inquiries. The climate scientist, author of more than 250 scientific publications, says he now receives 10 requests a week. “It wasn’t like this before,” he continues.

However, he remains cautious, saying that “the problem is not awareness but action”.

“After the summer of 2003, we also said that there was an awareness. After that summer there was a normal summer, and then everything went back to the way it was,” says Jouzel, fearing that the effect of the previous summer would also will be short-lived. “We’ll have one or two normal summers and inactivity will be the order of the day again.”

Are the French climate skeptics?

Is this a sign that France is denying the reality of global warming? Several media outlets recently caused some confusion when they shared a OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) study, carried out in 20 countries and published in July, revealed that 57% of French people believe that “climate change exists and is caused by humans”. According to these figures, 43% of French people do not believe this statement, despite the scientific consensus on the subject.

But does this really mean that almost one in two French people are skeptical about climate change?

No, says study lead authorAntoine Decheslepretre, stating that the study is more interested in finding out whether the population supports the public policies that have been enacted to combat climate change.

In this case, the 43% of French people who do not believe that humanity has nothing to do with global warming are simply misinformed.

However, Jouzel says the French are still a little slow to acknowledge that humans cause global warming.

In April 2021, an opinion poll showed that “one in five French people (21%) did not believe in global warming”.

“Some accept the reality of global warming but do not accept the reality of there being a link between global warming and human activities, while others accept it but think that technology will solve everything, which is extremely dangerous. , ” Climatologists say climate skeptics are less visible than they were a decade ago.

The fact is that the French are now more concerned about this phenomenon. According to an Ipsos poll published on 25 August, global warming has become the second biggest concern for the French (32%) after inflation (33%). “This is the highest level ever measured,” Polling Institute director Matthew Gallard said on Twitter.

Not ‘adapt’, but ‘change’ your behavior

When Météo France submitted its report for the summer of 2022, Samuel Morin, director of the National Center for Meteorological Research, said it was a “forecast” of the future last summer.

By 2050, “we expect about half of summer to be comparable or even higher”. This will happen even if the world manages to control greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Although more and more French people are saying they are ready to “customize their behaviour”, Jouzel thinks this will not be enough. “We must no longer just adopt our behavior, but change our behaviour, and this is what the French do not understand,” he says.

Calling for “energy restraint” which, according to them, is a vague expression with no real concrete measures, climatologists find it “regrettable” that the topic has only been brought up when the Ukraine conflict is on. “It’s so pathetic that we’re talking about it now when we know it very well: the need to put moderation at the heart of climate policy was spelled out in the latest IPCC report and 150 citizens’ recommendations.” He remembers. “It’s not just marginalized things that need to be done, not just small gestures.”

This article is a translation of the original into French.

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