In front of the National Assembly, scientists train deputies on the job in climate issues


REPORTAGE – A few steps from the Palais Bourbon, 35 renowned scientists have been taking turns since Monday to discuss and train new deputies in climate and biodiversity issues. More than 150 elected officials took part in the game.

Impeccable navy suit, polished shoes, badge and welcome case barely recovered from the Palais bourbon, three deputies approach, hesitant, the white tents stamped #MandatCLimatBiodiversité. Since Monday, 35 renowned scientists – from the IPCC, High Council for Climate, IDDRI, etc. – offer newly elected MPs express training in climate and biodiversity issues.

This unprecedented initiative, which aims to be non-partisan, brings together climatologists, oceanographers, hydrologists, ecologists and even geographers, and is carried out in close collaboration with the former environmentalist deputy of Maine-et-Loire Matthieu Orphelin, and the collective of young professionals and students large schools Ecological awakening. The latter advocate the training of large schools – especially engineering – and companies in these themes.

“Ecology should become the new economy: it concerns all sectors. Today, not a single party is not formed in the economy. »

Léa Falco, from the collective of young professionals Réveil Écologique.

The stated objective: “communicate the scientific facts around these issues, so that political decisions are taken in the most objective way possible, in a known geophysical framework of global warming in the coming decades», explains the climatologist Christophe Cassou, from the National Center for Scientific Research and co-author of the latest IPCC report, at the origin of the project. “Today, in France, climate and biodiversity issues remain partisan. Admittedly, ecology is political – it questions our ways of life, but it should be cross-partisan: it is about the collective destiny of our country. This shouldn’t be a one-party issue.”comments Léa Falco, of Ecological awakening. “Ecology should become the new economy: it concerns all sectors. Today, not a single party is not trained in the economy!”she points out.

It’s 10 a.m., the morning freshness is already beginning to fade. The three elected officials – from the Horizons group – sit down in the tent, facing two experts – Goneri Le Cozannet, geographer specializing in the risks of marine submersion and co-author of the latest IPCC report; and Sabrina Krief, primatologist, veterinarian and lecturer at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Three elected members of the Horizons group attend the training provided by 40 renowned scientists on climate and biodiversity issues, near the Invalides metro station, not far from the Palais Bourbon, on June 22, 2022. Benedicte Lutaud / Le Figaro

The exchange begins with a brief – challenging – summary of climate and biodiversity issues. Sabrina Krief evokes, pell-mell, intensive agriculture and soybean monoculture in France, fossil energy, agroecology, the carbon storage allowed by vegetation and the planting of different species… but also the impacts on biodiversity: “at 1.5 degrees, 70-90% of corals will disappear. At 2 degrees, 99% of corals will disappear. These corals represent 25% of the world’s marine biodiversity, if we lose them, it is irreversible”.

One of the chosen ones reacts frankly: “We feel that there is an urgency, but for a parliamentarian, after reading the 64-page summary for decision-makers of the IPCC report, we do not know what to do with it”. With patience, the experts continue the exchange, according to the questions of their interlocutors.

10:30 a.m., other deputies, good students in this legislative “back to school”, appeared under the tent. At one of the discussion tables, Ségolène Amiot, LFI deputy for Loire-Atlantique, and Eric Martineau, Modem deputy for Sarthe, sit down and listen attentively to Christophe Cassou’s presentations; Benoît Leguet, director of the Institute of Economics for the Climate and member of the High Council for the Climate; and Anne-Violette Lavoir, specialist in agroecology. “We are in a rupture. For example, do you have an idea of ​​the share of climate change linked to human activities?, tries Christophe Cassou. The parliamentarians confide in being “acquired in the cause”, not without having many questions, even asking angry questions. And for good reason : “I am a farmer, last year I lost 70% of my harvest. The problems of drought or frost, I’m right in it”loose Eric Martineau.

“I am a farmer, last year I lost 70% of my harvest. The problems of drought or frost, I’m right in it! »

Eric Martineau, Modem MP for Sarthe and farmer.

The discussion heats up. The elected official confides, a bit bitterly, that many of his colleagues have had to abandon organic farming, which is too expensive. “Myself, I now produce three to four times less eco-responsible: below €1 to €1.50, I can’t live!”.

After a debate of experts on more or less “natural” pesticides with Anne-Violette Lavoir, Christophe Cassou tries to refocus the discussion by inviting his interlocutors to have a more “macro” vision: “Organic or not organic, the question is, ‘Will it be sustainable? The climate has already changed, it’s changing fast. In 2050, last week’s heat wave, it will be twice as bad. How do we for agriculture, health? From 2040, there will be a real problem of water resources in the South West. Today, we cannot do without“.

In turn, Benoît Leguet brings his economic expertise to the discussion, while questioning elected officials on the next legislative deadlines in connection with the topics discussed. “This can be laws directly related to the climate, such as the climate energy programming law in 2023. Or other laws where the title does not mention these themes, but with an impact on the climate and diversity.», argues the expert. “For example, the finance bill, which will arrive in the fall, and everything related to taxation to limit greenhouse gases, support measures for housing renovation, ‘clean’ mobility ‘, to the artificialization of the soil…»he explains.

Each elected official leaves with three documents: one listing the next legislative deadlines, the other with a bibliography, and a 10-point summary of the three sections of the latest IPCC report (findings, adaptation, impacts).

Summary of the “impact” section of the latest IPCC report offered to elected officials. Bénédicte LUTAUD/Le Figaro.

At the end of the afternoon, this Wednesday, 154 deputies – 80 from the Together! ; 70 of the Nupes; 1 various right, 1 various left, 1 LR and 1 RN had lent themselves to the game. Or 27% of the Assembly. A first step “successful and encouraging” for the former MP Matthieu Orphelin.

Monday, “we were afraid“, confesses the one who is about to become director of the League for the Protection of Birds: only one elected official had presented himself to the training. Tuesday, about fifty had played the game. By dint of communications and media relay, the initiative ended up taking. Even if the “absolute majority” dreamed of by the former environmentalist deputy has not been reached.

“It’s not easy, it requires a little humility”, tell us the organizers. However “We also learn from each other’s expertise. We also learn from MPsemphasizes Christophe Cassou. It is more of an exchange, of an increase in skills than of training.”

Only “hiccup”: convincing elected officials LR and RN was particularly difficult. It was not until this Wednesday afternoon that Maxime Minot, LR deputy from Oise, and Henri de Lépinau, RN deputy from Vaucluse passed through the door – despite the displayed refusal of Marine Le Pen, on France Inter, to participate.

Next claimed objective: the organization of more advanced scientific training offered to the entire National Assembly – because 20 to 30 minutes on such vast and complex themes, notes Jean-Baptiste Sallée, oceanographer and climatologist at the CNRS, “this is obviously not enough, even if it is the first seed sown”.

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