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Companies are taking up the challenge of sustainable transformation

March 16, 2023

Companies are taking up the challenge of sustainable transformation.

Reducing the speed limit on freeways from 130km/h to 110km/h, organising the gradual end of air traffic on domestic flights by 2025, only on routes where there is a satisfactory low-carbon alternative in terms of price and time (on a journey of less than 4 hours), or legislating on the crime of ecocide, are some of the most emblematic and high-profile proposals of the Citizens' Climate Convention.

A new democratic experiment in France, the Citizens' Climate Convention brought together, from October 2019 to June 2020, one hundred and fifty citizens, all drawn by lot, to define a series of measures to achieve a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in a spirit of social justice.

Thus, the 150 participants, from all socio-professional backgrounds, were able to make their proposals around five key themes of daily life, such as: food, housing, transportation, work and production, and consumption, with the support of a Governance Committee, technical and legal experts and professionals in participation and collective deliberation.

The company, at the crossroads of the priority axes of transformation.

A few months later, as a thumb in the face of the 90% of the proposals of the Citizen's Climate Convention that were rejected, not implemented or watered down by the Government, Eric Duverger, an executive at Michelin, created in December 2020, the Businesses for Climate Convention, by federating the leaders of more than 150 companies from all regions of France, Its mission is "to accelerate the low-carbon strategies and the reconnection of each participating company to the living world, and to formulate concrete, ambitious and demanding proposals from companies in favor of the transition to an ecological economy.

Although the titles of the two conventions were similar and their ambitions complementary, this time the aim was not to list proposals per se, but for each participating company to reinvent its business model on the basis of a common frame of reference, within the framework of the planetary limits, via the construction of a roadmap for compatibility with the Paris Agreements and the European objectives by 2030.

The final report of the first Business for Climate Convention, delivered in October 2022, presents the roadmaps of the 150 participating companies, in which each one sets out its course for 2030, its redirection levers, its measurable impact objectives, its action plan and the way it mobilizes its ecosystems.

The triptych of this unprecedented sequence, initiated by the Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (Citizen's Convention for the Climate), the result of the conclusions of the Grand Débat national (Great National Debate), a proposal from the "Gilets citoyens" (Citizens' Vests) collective and the Conseil économique, social et environnemental (Economic, Social and Environmental Council), was followed by another assembly of non-specialists, the Grand Défi des entreprises pour la planète (Great Business Challenge for the Planet), which published its 100 proposals for speeding up the eco-transition of companies and the economy on February 9 at the CESE.

This is just a few days after the first Ecological Planning Council was held at the end of January 2023, where the President of the Republic called for a doubling of the annual reduction in carbon emissions recorded over the last five years, inviting all economic actors to accelerate their transition efforts in order to meet the 2030 objectives.

Faced with a geopolitical and financial context marked by the COVID crisis, the Ukrainian conflict, tensions between China and the United States and their energy and inflationary consequences, the strategy of companies to transform themselves in a sustainable way tends to refocus on the treatment of the most significant carbon pockets, by stimulating the development and dissemination of alternative technical solutions. Companies, at the crossroads of supply, production and distribution supply chains, have been at the heart of the most recent structuring announcements :

- 5 billion to decarbonize the 50 largest French industrial sites, which currently emit more than 43 million tons of greenhouse gases,

- Strengthen the mobilization of public and private investments in innovative companies for the financing of innovation and R&D,

- Accelerate the electrification of mobility, particularly inter-city mobility, with a plan for RER-type rail services in 10 cities and the investment of 1 billion euros per year until 2040 to regenerate the aging rail network and 500 million euros for its modernization.

The company, a potential of multiplication superior to that of the "citizen lever".

Aware of the urgency, more and more individuals and companies are doing their part without waiting for legislation to be in place. As the transformation is systemic, the battle can only be won if it is conducted on all fronts. It is a question of working on both supply and demand, by changing consumption, production and sales habits.

To better measure the challenge facing us and to have in mind the right orders of magnitude, the carbon footprint of the French represented 11, 2 tons of CO2 equivalent (t CO2 eq) per capita in 2018 (of which 84% related to the consumption of goods and services produced) and must decrease to 2 tons of CO2 per year between now and 2100, to take into account the evolution of the world's population between now and 2100 and to respect a strictly egalitarian distribution of the amount of CO2 to be emitted. While companies must aim for carbon neutrality by 2050. The objective for France is to reduce its CO2 emissions to 270 million tons by 2030, a decrease of 140 million tons compared to our current emissions.

The Ecological Planning Council has the ambition to achieve this, by mobilizing and committing each sector, each company, each citizen to get on track. In the meantime, as a call to accelerate and act, numerous citizen and private initiatives show every day that more and more French people are ready to do so.

The big challenge seems to be on the side of the public actors and the Government, which must really take hold of the subject, notably by including their proposals in the numerous laws to come on the subject. And then to quickly sign the decrees of application and to scrupulously ensure the follow-up and the effectiveness in time, to take up together the challenge of the century.

For more information :

The Citizen's Climate Convention Report :

- The Business for Climate Convention Report :

- The Great Business Challenge for the Planet: 100 proposals to accelerate the ecological transition of the economy and businesses :
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