« Putting the environment at the core of a collective rebound »

05/04/2020

On the initiative of Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas and Chairman of EpE, a collective forum of French and international business leaders, among which Pierre-André de Chalendar (Chairman and CEO of Saint-Gobain) issues a call for putting the environment at the core of an economic rebound.

Over the past few weeks, massive resources have been allocated to address the unprecedented crisis triggered by Covid-19. As well as the health impacts, the social and economic consequences of the crisis are being felt by people across France. The focus now is on limiting the effects particularly through the deployment of financial resources that enable French businesses to bounce back in an inclusive and resilient manner. We welcome the quick and momentous decisions initially taken by the French government to address the situation and recognize the solidarity shown by the business community.

This trying situation comes at a time when we had embarked on the transformation of our economy to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss and to prevent other major crises announced by the scientific community. We stand by our collective ecological transition ambitions and reaffirm the commitments we have made over the years, since continuing our efforts is the key to their success.

For this to happen, it will be essential to channel a large proportion of the financial resources earmarked for economic recovery into the areas already identified as supporting ecological transition[1], with an even greater emphasis on social justice.

We believe that these financial resources can be a powerful catalyst for a green and inclusive recovery. Forthcoming stimulus packages will present so many good opportunities for making the investments necessary to support transformation pathways.

The first opportunity consists in stepping up short- and medium-term support for sectors that have high job creation and environmental conservation value, in particular by focusing on:

  • energy retrofits of dwellings, buildings and offices in the public and private sectors;
  • development of decarbonised mobility, electric vehicles, soft mobility infrastructure and public transport;
  • expansion and storage of renewable and decarbonised electrical energies or heat.

In these sectors, every public financial initiative is a powerful lever for private investment, making them the best candidates for an early recovery.

As all sectors continue to make headway on their decarbonisation pathway, the second opportunity consists in using public investment to make Europe’s industrial facilities more resilient, while decarbonising them and reducing our carbon footprint. The crisis has starkly revealed the vulnerability of global value chains. Developing a more circular economy and more sustainable and local food supply – for which there is a strong demand from our fellow citizens – would be part and parcel of this drive.

The third opportunity concerns action to boost research, innovation, industrial demonstrators, and future industrialisation solutions, with huge medium- and long-term implications. Well-identified as priorities to be promoted, the solutions include bioeconomy and hydrogen and their uses in land and air transport, carbon dioxide reuse, among many others.

The benefits of these green investments include improved air quality, population health and quality of life in cities. Successfully implementing this emergency plan will also give us greater legitimacy as active participants in the next European Green Deal.

To address the crisis beyond the short term, we will need to deploy collective intelligence in the post-pandemic world, envision far-reaching changes to our methods of production, business models, consumer behaviour and lifestyles, and rethink our relationship with nature. Already we have set this thought process in motion to ensure that economic recovery is on a sustainable and resilient footing.

By acting collectively, we will be able to safeguard the health of our fellow citizens, revitalise our industrial facilities and make the necessary changes so that our children have a liveable planet which delivers human, economic and social prosperity. Let us use the present challenge we are facing together as an opportunity for us all to put the environment at the core of a collective rebound.

[1] See in particular SNBC and the ZEN 2050 study, Imagining and building a carbon-neutral France by 2050, 2019

SIGNATORIES

Patrick André, Vesuvius ; Bernard Arnault, LVMH ; Jacques Aschenbroich, Valeo ; Patrick Berard, Rexel ; Laurent Beuselinck, ERM-France ; Thierry Blandinières, InVivo ; Thierry Boisnon, Nokia-France ; Sophie Boissard, Korian ; Yannick Bolloré, Vivendi ; Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, BNP Paribas ; Christel Bories, Eramet ; François Brottes, RTE ; Thomas Buberl, AXA ; Laurent Burelle, Président de l’Afep ; Patrice Caine, Thales ; Bertrand Camus, Suez ; Heiko Carrie, Bosch-France ; Guillaume Charlin, BCG-France ; Jean-Marc Chéry, STMicroelectronics ; Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Engie ; Benoît Coquart, Legrand ; Anne-Marie Couderc, Groupe Air France-KLM ; Christophe Cuvillier, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield ; Philippe Darmayan, ArcelorMittal-France ; Pierre-André de Chalendar, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain ; Thierry de la Tour d’Artaise, Groupe SEB ; Augustin de Romanet, Groupe ADP ; Michel de Rosen, Faurecia ; Fabrice Domange, Marsh SA ; Pierre Donnersberg, Siaci Saint-Honoré ; Emmanuel Faber, Danone ; Jean-Pierre Farandou, SNCF ; Guillaume Faury, Airbus ; Laurent Favre, Compagnie Plastic Omnium ; Antoine Flamarion, Tikehau Capital ; Antoine Frérot, Veolia ; Didier Gauthier, Chimirec ; Jean-Marc Germain, Constellium ; Jacques Gounon, Getlink ; Jean-Laurent Granier, Generali France ; Christopher Guérin, Nexans ; Catherine Guillouard, RATP ; Edouard Guinotte, Vallourec ; Paul Hermelin, Capgemini ; Thierry Herning, BASF-France ; Paul Hudson, Sanofi ; Xavier Huillard, Vinci ; Sylvie Jéhanno, Dalkia ; Ilham Kadri, Solvay ; Denis Kessler, SCOR ; Christophe Kullmann, Covivio ; Marianne Laigneau, Enedis ; Matthieu Lassalle, Primagaz ; Olivier Laureau, Servier ; Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES ; Thierry Le Hénaff, Arkema ; Dominique Lefebvre, Crédit Agricole ; Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF ; Eric Lombard, Caisse des Dépôts ; Thierry Martel, Groupama ; Xavier Martiré, Elis ; Florent Menegaux, Michelin ; Didier Michaud-Daniel, Bureau Veritas ; Laurent Mignon, BPCE ; Virginie Morgon, Eurazeo ; Frédéric Oudéa, Société Générale ; Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel ; Jérôme Pécresse, GE France ; Yves Perrier, Amundi ; Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, Paprec ; Nicolas Petrovic, Siemens-France ; François Petry, LafargeHolcim France ; Robert Peugeot, FFP ; Olivier Peyret, Schlumberger SA ; Bruno Pillon, HeidelbergCement France ; François-Henri Pinault, Kering ; Benoît Potier, Air Liquide ; Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom ; Patrick Pouyanné, Total ; Jean-Philippe Puig, Groupe Avril ; Benoît Rabilloud, Bayer-France ; Sami Rahal, Deloitte France ; François Riahi, Natixis ; Alexandre Ricard, Pernod-Ricard ; Stéphane Richard, Orange ; Bris Rocher, Groupe Rocher ; Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, Président du Medef ; Frédéric Sanchez, Fives ; Joël Séché, Séché-Environnement ; Jean-Dominique Senard, Renault ; Guy Sidos, Vicat ; Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Schneider Electric ; Philippe Varin, Orano, Président de France-Industrie (…)

This opinion column has been published in the daily Le Monde, May 5, 2020.

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