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An ‘Eco-technology’ Round Table

27/08/2009

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Through the ‘Environment Round Table’ France is formulating collective solutions to environmental problems at the national, European and international levels.

Two years after the launch of the Environment Round Table français (2007) – a collection of debates that bring together representatives from government, unions and NGOs – and following a roadmap in favour of ecology, sustainable development and planning, the French parliament adopted the ‘Grenelle I’ bill on 17 June 2009 . This initial text sets out France’s approach to energy, transport and housing. A second bill is set to follow in December.

The exercise is intended to be a response to the European directives in this area, and also highlighting the economic opportunities available. One of the aims of the French initiative is the development of cleaner, more efficient technologies in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of four by 2050.

The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) believe this target can be achieved by reducing consumption and developing renewable energies in order to make further reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions from energy production.

€400 million over four years

ADEME is also responsible for implementing the measures agreed by the Parliament, particularly the measures in the so-called ‘demonstration funds’, which aim to support experimental work on technologies at the development stage. These measures will aid innovative projects that demonstrate the possibilities for industrial use and validate their effectiveness in situ.

Despite the delay in the adoption of the bills, and the financial crisis, in 2008 ADEME issued the first calls for expressions of interest in carrying out demonstration research projects in the field of second-generation biofuels and vehicles with low CO2 emissions, as well as carbon capture and storage. The agency has a budget of €400 million euros to allocate between 2009 and 2013.

Demonstration funds: an industrial philosophy

This funding is based on the need to help projects to make the transition between laboratory research, demonstration and commercialisation. In fact, this element of R&D often requires considerable investment in terms of cost and time, but few guarantees of a return on the investment. The funds are directed towards French manufacturers or groups of manufacturers with public and/or private partnerships.

These demonstration funds form part of an overall strategy designed to make the French economy more competitive and innovative and thus to increase the number of jobs linked to green growth, particularly in the field of housing, intelligent electric networks, renewable energy and vehicles with low CO2 emissions. This strategy was backed by a study français published last June by the Boston Consulting Group, confirming that the Environment Round Table could create 600 000 jobs and some €450 billion of investment, €170 billion of it from public bodies such as OSEO français, ADEME and the Agence national de la recherche français [French National Research Agency] (ANR).