50 editorial staffs are committed to raising French society awareness of the issues and consequences of the climatic emergency

Olivier ABULI, advice and analyses consultant

October 31, 2022

A survey published on October 8th shows that 51% of French people are unaware of their vehicle Crit’air ranking, six years after this system for classifying harmful emissions from internal combustion engines was created. As of 2025, Low Emission Zones (ZFE) will drastically restrict the circulation rules of the most polluting models in all or part of the 45 main French cities. While a third of the vehicle fleet is potentially affected, 42% of respondents say that they will continue to drive in these zones, despite the fact that they are not in compliance with them.

This rate of refractory drivers, whatever their motivations are, necessarily questions both the implementation methods of this measure and the understanding of its sanitary usefulness.

At the end of September, the Ministry of Energy Transition decree, - "allowing ENEDIS to remotely deactivate electrical uses controlled via the Linky meter" of nearly 5 million customers (in fact only, hot water tanks between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.) -, had aroused many reactions on social networks, ranging from simple lack of understanding to outright hostility expressions...

These « weak » signals need to be put into context (inflationary and energy tensions more or less linked to the war in Ukraine).

But they are also echoing a recurring warning highlighted in recent national and international reference reports1 regarding the climate emergency : the success of resilience and transformation policies will depend on the social acceptability of the changes and on the powerful mechanisms of dialogue and solidarity.

The media are mobilizing themselves to better inform the French

Six months ago, Vert, an independent online news magazine about ecology, took the initiative of proposing the media a manifesto - which has now become a Charter - for « a journalism being up to the ecological emergency ». This autumn, 50 editorial staffs have signed up to this Charter.

Although it is not possible to list here all the signatories, partners and supporters of this initiative, it is clear that it has already succeeded in federating media beyond the heart of the ecosystem of monitoring and information about climate and ecology.

In addition to the « historical » pool (Reporterre, Climax...), national editorial staffs (RFI, France 24, 20 minutes, Alternatives économiques, Médiapart, Science&Vie Juniors)... as well as Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg and Tours journalism schools and the main professional unions have joined this initiative. If we add the individual memberships of 1,500 journalists, it is almost the entire French media spectrum that is officially or indirectly connected to the movement.

The wording of the 13 points of this Charter is sober and concise. It is understood as an update of the fundamental principles of journalistic ethics to the complexe way of reporting the nature and systemic stakes of climate change. The responsibility of editorial staffs in terms of continuous training, independence, transparency and pedagogy (wording used in the Charter) makes up its matrix.

An energy report to help getting through the winter

On a more immediate note, the electricity transmission operator (RTE) and ADEME have been working since the beginning of 2022 to strengthen the Ecowatt information and public accountability system in order to help preventing the risk of untimely power cuts during the coldest winter months.

More than 100 companies or national brands and as many local authorities (regions, departments, cities, municipalities...) are committed to reduce their consumption in case of important tensions on the network (lighting, heating...).

Households are also encouraged to actively save energy, for example by deferring the use of their most energy-intensive household appliances if necessary.

In order to reach the entire population, the public authorities have called upon the three main national broadcasters. A few days ago, Radio France, France Télévision and TF1 added to their weather forecasts an indicator showing the correlation between temperatures and electrical capacity robustness. In addition, they have added practical eco-advice likely to help reducing the energy bill of individuals.

These axes and carriers of awareness are complementary and only need to be mixed to provide our fellow citizens with all the necessary keys to understand and anticipate the transformations that are underway : regulations, deadlines, support mechanisms, maturity of technologies and solutions...

It’s obvious that the media commitment, the pedagogical scope and the neutrality of their perspective, will be decisive to win the necessary support for the profound changes in habits that decarbonisation of lifestyles requires within one generation !

The communication relay that the most committed public and private organizations can bring to it will not be too much to reach this objective.

This is indeed the firm belief of Vetted, the marketplace of verified sustainable solutions for companies and public bodies, which has already referenced more than 800 sustainable solutions, to take the step.

For the past 18 months, we have been offering free access to a monthly series of normative or sectoral decrypts and interviews with committed entrepreneurs. Moreover, this fall, we have launched a new series of podcasts, named Systemic.

Dedicated to the most influential observers and facilitators of the transformation, it has been inaugurated by Bettina Laville. This is our contribution.

1. See our articles on ADEME prospective exercise « Transition(s) 2050, choose now » (November 2021) ; the Plan for the Transformation of the French Economy (PTEF) developed by the Shift Project ; the 2nd part of the IPCC assessment report (February 2022).