FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE – On May 30 on France Inter, the engineer Jean-Marc Jancovici proposed to establish a quota of flights by plane. Economist Nicolas Bouzou criticizes this idea, which would not significantly reduce CO2 emissions and could kill airlines.
Nicolas Bouzou, economist, is the founder of the consulting firm Asterès.
Jean-Marc Jancovici, engineer, would he have become a professional media provocateur? He once again proposed, to fight against greenhouse gas emissions, to limit the number of plane flights to four in a lifetime. He was able to develop his proposal a few days ago on France Inter: “When you are young, you have four flights to discover the world. When we are older, we go on vacation in Corrèze or by train.. When confronted with the liberticidal and anti-economic nature of this measure, he replies that, in any case, the lower availability of oil is leading us towards this world without air transport. The reasoning seems logical. However, on closer inspection, it is not. Jancovici claims that not taking such action is impossible. What we can answer him: taking this type of measure is perfectly impossible. How will the contradiction be resolved?
It is always easy, in public debate, to impose an ethic of conviction while disregarding the consequences of radical ideas. The problem is that the life of societies is very concrete, and that certain ideas come up against constraints or even impossibilities. They allow a quarter of an hour of media glory but do not advance their cause. Besides, it’s a safe bet that a proposal like Jancovici’s on airplanes is perfect fuel for the engine of climatoscepticism.
There are approximately 5 billion air transport passengers each year. A large part of these passengers depart from the United States, China, India, Japan, Thailand, the Emirates or Qatar. Do we seriously think that these countries will participate in a global regulation that caps the number of flights in a lifetime at less than 10 by killing a sector and tourist destinations even though civil aeronautics represents 3% of global emissions of carbon? But let’s admit that all these countries, taken of madness and transformed into dictatorship (because many are still democracies), agree on such a measure. How would they actually enforce it? And what airline would not have gone bankrupt? It would simply be the end of airplanes. To speak of turning back will fall short of this shameful reality.
Progress in engines, lightening of structures, partial electrification, renewable fuels: the decarbonization of aeronautics is underway and it will precede the Robespierrist inclinations of the radicals.
An intellectually correct way of posing the problem of measurement advocated by Jancovici would be the following. What is most likely and what is most desirable? 1/ that most of the governments of the planet agree to distribute a permit to take the plane which limits to 4 the number of flights in a lifetime? 2/ that thanks to regulations, taxation, subsidies, research and development and common sense which dictates not taking the plane to make jumps or for short periods, civil aeronautics is gradually largely decarbonized (it will never be completely so) and limited to reasoned uses? The reason is not on the side of excess.
The Airbus A220, which equips more and more airlines, including Air France, already emits 20% less CO2 than its predecessors. Progress in engines, lightening of structures, partial electrification, renewable fuels: the decarbonization of aeronautics is underway and it will precede the Robespierrist inclinations of the radicals. Diminishing environmentalists believe they can safely say that innovation will not save us. We could answer them: only innovation could save us.
There is always excess when we talk about planes. The plane evokes travel, uprooting, technological progress, globalization: so many scarecrows for a class of observers who are as anti-capitalist as they are ecologists. Long live the plane, purveyor of dreams, of human proximity, of discoveries… and of jobs.