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“Faced with the climate emergency, we must change pace”

8:55 p.m., June 11, 2022

Here is his platform: “The energy issue is a summary of climate, economic and geopolitical issues. In this regard, only one certainty prevails: the energy we save makes us stronger, while the energy we consume, or waste, weakens us and increases our dependence. We need to plug the main source of energy loss: our buildings. An assessment by the International Energy Agency in 2019 established the share of buildings in the production of greenhouse gas emissions at 38%.

In this same report, the Agency estimated that, to set out on the path to a carbon-neutral building stock by 2050, direct CO2 emissions from buildings should be reduced by 50% by 2030 and indirect emissions by 60%, a decline of about 6% per year during the current decade.

Why come back to this 2019 report today? Because we are coming out of the Covid period with mixed results: if the slowdown in the economy first reduced emissions, health disruptions on construction sites, then the geopolitical and energy crisis which is disrupting supplies have also caused delays in the execution of the works. The number of renovations, the only ones capable of structurally improving the energy performance of buildings, remains well below the objectives set and jeopardizes our climate trajectory.

The construction sector must also be considered strategic

If energy has always been a major geopolitical issue, today the construction sector must also be considered strategic. Our main energy savings depend on the quality of the buildings and the renovation of buildings. The energy supply makes us very dependent, especially for the fossil fuels that we still need. However, the energy savings that we can achieve thanks to a dynamic building sector only depend on us and the support that our States choose to provide to the sector. Encouraging, supporting, accelerating renovation means choosing to move forward effectively on the main vector of solutions to our climate trajectory, moreover the one over which we have full control.

Beyond the major environmental benefit that will result from this, there are many other positive impacts for our fellow citizens, foremost among which is an increase in household purchasing power with a reduction in heating costs, the improvement of life and work, without forgetting the creation of local jobs. Rapidly embarking on an ambitious construction and renovation policy means taking concrete action for the climate, by pooling the resources and talents of both the public and private sectors, and by aiming from the outset for the right order of magnitude of the investments necessary to respect our climate trajectory.

The Saint-Gobain group, which I have the honor of leading, has invested for years to support all the initiatives and all the commitments that contribute to the energy improvement of buildings. These programs are gaining momentum, whether at European level (Fit for 55, aiming to reduce carbon emissions in Europe by 55% by 2030) or at national level (in France, Ma Prime Rénov’ since 2021). They rely on competent, innovative and responsible companies, as well as on all committed craftsmen across our country.

Although they have proven their effectiveness, the results remain well below what is needed. Faced with the climate emergency, we must change pace and mobilize resources on a much greater scale. Now is the time to show boldness and inventiveness to multiply the effort and the investment. Two-thirds of the buildings of 2050 are already built today, let us strongly amplify the renovation plan for individual and collective housing and, above all, let us seriously attack the public park (schools, hospitals, crèches, town halls), which is the most late when it should be exemplary. In France alone, this concerns nearly 100 million square meters belonging to the State and 280 million belonging to local authorities, most of which were built before 1975! The challenge is there, let’s take it up together: the challenge of renovation for more sobriety, therefore energy sovereignty. »

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