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In his new book, published by Odile Jacob in early 2022, the engineer who invented the carbon balance sheet lists all the economic actions to be taken to achieve carbon neutrality, particularly in the agricultural sector.
Does the name Jean-Luc Jancovici mean anything to you? However, this polytechnician is a reference in the world of ecology: he simply invented the carbon footprint in the early 2000s, the method that makes it possible to account for direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions in any sector of the economy. Today, in addition to being a Youtuber and teacher, the engineer is the head of The Shift Project, an association founded in 2010. The primary objective of this ecological think tank is to mitigate climate change. To do this, Jean-Luc Jancovici recommends first and foremost reducing dependence on fossil fuels, by favouring cycling or walking.
But beyond individual gestures, Jean-Luc Jancovici has drawn up a list of macroeconomic actions to be taken to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Several years of research have resulted in a book that is both explanatory, pragmatic and educational. Each chapter focuses on one of the 15 sectors of the economy, with graphic illustrations and figures. In short, the book is intended to be a practical guide for public decision-makers.
Making better use of land to increase carbon sequestration
Jean-Luc Jancovici’s leitmotiv? No longer a spectator of the consequences of climate change, but to take immediate action. Chapter 2 of the book focuses on agriculture and food, starting from a simple observation: this sector is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in France, as three quarters of its energy consumption comes from oil. It is also a source of employment since it represents 1.43 million workers. The challenge is therefore to preserve employment while reducing the environmental impact of this part of the economy. Especially as French eating habits are changing: they are trying to eat more fruit and vegetables, less meat and are turning more readily to artisanal or organic products.
To decarbonise the food system and make it more resilient, Jean-Luc Jancovici proposes, among other things, to massively develop agro-ecological practices, to increase the use of wood products in construction and renovation, and to limit soil artificialisation. “We will take care to consider the ways in which the costs associated with these changes can be borne by society,” he says, pointing out that “the way we use land modulates its capacity to store carbon”.
The book points out that while forests and permanent grasslands are considered carbon sinks, cultivated land and artificial land are sources of CO2. The polytechnician therefore wishes to start his transformation plan with a concrete study of the carbon sequestration potential of French forests, grasslands and agricultural soils, in order to draw all the lessons to adapt the measures to be taken.