While COP26 ends on a bittersweet note and the soaring prices of raw materials and transport costs set the planet ablaze, growth areas are emerging between Europe and Asia, in the image of the new economic powers of the Middle East, boosted by oil and gas revenues. Among them, the ambitious Dubai, which wants to be the herald of a proactive vision of the future and draws the beginnings of a better world: open, technological, desirable and sustainable...
The end of 2021 is going to be a very dangerous year, with health uncertainties and a strong economic recovery. While in France the epidemic remains under control for the time being, borders are opening in the world, marking the return to "almost" normal. After 18 months of the Covid crisis, which placed the issue of protecting people and the planet at the heart of all concerns, the holding of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, gave a boost to climate commitments. The United Nations climate summit, which brought together all the world's leaders from October 31 to November 12, was in line with the European "Green Deal" which aims to accelerate the energy transition and significantly reduce GHG emissions.
If the event was the scene of tensions on the part of activists (Greta Thunberg, supported by thousands of young people, called the Glasgow conference a "failure" and denounced the private jet travel of some leaders) and disappointments (a third of the world's most polluting countries were not represented), we must nevertheless welcome the advances: The formalization of a pact to reduce methane emissions by 30%, signed by more than 80 countries, or the commitment of a hundred leaders to end deforestation and that of twenty countries to stop financing fossil fuels internationally by 2022, but also the confirmation of the exit of thermal cars, or the energy revolution driven by hydrogen ... Initiatives, certainly, salutary but insufficient in the face of the challenges of global warming. And for good reason: after a 7% drop in CO2 emissions in 2020 due to the cessation of industrial activities during the pandemic, these have resumed just as quickly with the recovery. The sustained global economic recovery has led to a massive increase in energy demand, straining a global energy system that is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The increase in CO2 emissions from oil and gas is a long-term concern, as is the growth in emissions from coal in 2021. These trends take us farther away from the carbon neutrality planned for 2050 for some (rather around 2060, for China). Decarbonizing the world's human activities will be impossible without 100,000 billion euros of investments... That is 100 times the bill for the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Decarbonizing the global economy, impossible at less than 100,000 billion euros, 100 times the global bill of the Covid-19 pandemic"
In an overheated global economy, where commodity prices are skyrocketing (+ 33% on agricultural products) as well as those of maritime freight (container prices have increased fivefold, from $3,000 to $15,000) and energy (+ 80%), staying the course to support local economies is the main concern of States. As a result of the health crisis and the shutdown of production sites in 2020, global supply chains have been experiencing huge delays for the past 18 months. Vessels remain in port for weeks without being able to load or unload their goods, creating stock-outs and lengthening the supply times for certain strategic components for industry, such as semiconductors or rubber. These delays amount to between 4 and 8 months weeks on the Asia-Europe route and lead to tariff surcharges on ships blocked in Chinese ports. This saturation situation is expected to last until next summer, or even until the end of 2022.
In the meantime, the repercussions on the prices of consumer products, still timid, are likely to be felt more strongly as the months go by. In the midst of annual negotiations with suppliers, retailers are anticipating higher inflation than that announced by INSEE, at 2.6% in France, and a consecutive price increase in all stores on food products such as pasta, oils, coffee and cocoa and non-food products (DIY, cooking equipment, hi-fi/sound). This one-off logistics crisis only reveals Europe's hyper-dependence on Asian production and the limits of a logic of economic "distant sourcing" pushed to the extreme (always further away to lower production costs), now called into question by the soaring cost of transport. Textile and furniture brands are already thinking about shortening their supply chain to favor European sourcing, at a minimum. When economic and ecological interests converge, things move faster.
Thus, even if the end of the year is looking better with a return to economic growth and a more favorable health situation, there are still shadows. Caution is still required in several areas of the planet (Russia, China, Brazil) where resurgence of the virus is underway. The increase in the price of energy, raw materials and everyday consumer goods is also likely to affect a French population already incandescent since the health crisis and the social movements of the Gilets Jaunes. The current pre-electoral campaign, which electrifies the media and tenses people's minds on migration issues, national sovereignty, reindustrialization and purchasing power, risks further dividing a French nation in the grip of divisions. However, faced with the environmental and social challenges that affect all countries on the planet and the new global economic orders that are being established around China and the Middle East, Europe must show, more than ever, a united front to assert itself in the post-crisis world.