Climate change, a huge challenge

The goal is to limit warming to 1.5° C between 2030 and 2050.

For several years, we have watched, powerless, the imbalances and destruction caused by climate change. More than a serious concern, it has become a priority for government.

To reduce the impacts on citizens’ lives, we must envisage a holistic outlook with regard to public policy, whereas in France we are still taking a silo approach. The international will is to be more efficient in order to improve both operational and political goals.

In terms of resilience, we are beginning with concrete actions on the ground to get back to the strategic level.

Climate change: what does the future hold?

Emmanuel Bocrie, Director of the Media Unit at Météo France, foresees violent events in France over the coming years. All kinds of meteorological phenomena can be expected: flooding, heavy rain, drought, and even heatwaves.

He has even gone as far as announcing at a debate at the Haut Comité Français pour la Défense Civile (French Civil Defense Committee) that increased rainfall can be expected on the western, Atlantic Coast side of the country. This is why he is advising the immediate initiation of rainfall management projects (water retention and discharge).

On the other hand, when we go above 2 degrees, we don’t know what will happen or what climate change may cause.

We often talk about the melting of the ice caps. Nevertheless, this is not the only risk of climate change that we need to fear. In fact, although the number of cyclones in the overseas territories (the West Indies and Réunion) shouldn’t increase, it is estimated that they will become much more intense.

However, the effects of climate change are not restricted to the weather. It can also upset:

  • the hydrologic cycle
  • water reserves
  • agricultural production
  • energy
  • favor the spread of parasites from the south.

All of which will have the effect of increasing climate migration. Our entire society will be changed.

Climate change on a national and worldwide scale

When the public authorities are overwhelmed, the best solution is citizen solidarity. It is more apparent in English-speaking countries where people have been educated to be more responsible for their own resilience and that of those around them.

In addition, the Americans are better prepared than we are. Nevertheless, prevention is less effective, relatively speaking, because  there are insufficient financial resources which are released to lower levels in the hierarchy.

We need to invest in preparation and reconstruction because France is lagging behind compared to the English-speaking countries.

However, in France, we are also witnessing a great initiative. The resilience strategy for Paris orchestrated by Sébastien Maire, the city’s Chief Resilience Officer, which involves training networks of citizens on the action to be taken in the event of:

  • terrorist attacks
  • flooding (bearing in mind that this is a major risk for the city of Paris)
  • social crises
  • and major climatic events.

 

Paris’s commitment for climate

Paris is also one of the first capital cities to have approved a climate plan. However, if we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are heading towards a catastrophic scenario.

Currently, the city has more than ten years’ honorable experience in the European landscape. The Zero Carbon strategy will be implemented between now and 2050. And the meteorological services are innovating with the “infra-departmental” system, the delivery of more accurate weather information on a departmental basis.

We must continue to alleviate but we must also adapt. This is where resilience comes in.

Resilience doesn’t mean going back to the way things were, because we are still just as vulnerable. It is imperative to start to plan ahead during the crisis itself, even though it is a state of emergency.

It all begins with education about the risks, learning what to do in the event of incidents. Currently, even though France is making great strides, it is far behind other countries. In fact, we often see that the rules for vigilance are not followed. And because alert times are relatively short, weather information needs to be delivered directly to the inhabitant. 

So what can be done?

We need to invent:

  • adaptation systems for the city that do not consume energy and do not produce carbon
  • a model of transformation for the city, adaptation to climate imbalance through an urban plan, raising the awareness of inhabitants, and new local government cooperation.