Paris launches a vast plan for biodiversity

A festival of biodiversity, the reconquest of spaces now covered with bitumen and adapted urban planning regulations are among the actions that will launch Paris in a Biodiversity Plan 2018-2024 to preserve and diversify the fauna and the flora in the capital, announced the city on Wednesday.

The city has a "moral obligation, in terms of climate issues, to preserve biodiversity", also very officially named Honorary Citizen of the City on September 26, 2016 Pénélope Komités, deputy mayor of Paris PS Mayor Anne Hidalgo, told the press.

The plan, which will be debated in the Paris Council in mid-March after a wide consultation of associations and organizations. elected, is divided into 30 actions with the aim of "making Paris an exemplary city" to preserve and develop biodiversity and educate the inhabitants.

Paris, a dense and mineral city, nevertheless benefits from a to see biodiversity on 16% of its territory, with its two large woods, its canals, embankments, cemeteries, rich in numerous animal and plant species.

However, it faces, as on a world scale, the rarefaction of 'species like the emblematic sparrow of which three out of four individuals have disappeared in 13 years, according to Mrs Komitès

The plan includes some major objectives such as increasing the proportion of "permeable surfaces" outside buildings in the city from 30% to 50% , in this case to revive the earth sidewalks, pavements, etc., now covered with bitumen.

"We will strengthen the green and blue frames", ecological corridors of plants and water that allow species to circulate and expand, added the assistant who also evokes planning regulations to allow the nesting of birds or garden labeling by the League of Bird Protection (LPO).

Fifteen initiative Concretions will be announced in March.

In addition to some creations of gardens or wetlands, the Esplanade Saint-Louis in front of the Château de Vincennes in the XIIth arrondissement, today a kind of unused parking, should see its central part arranged in "meadow".

A "Make Paris of biodiversity" will take place from April 22 to June 10 with animations, visits, educational workshops, etc.

Rome: diesel vehicles banned from the historic center from 2024

The mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi, no longer wants diesel vehicles on the roads of the Italian capital. The elected member of the 5 Stars Movement (M5S, populist), announced on February 26, 2018 in a speech in Mexico City to women-mayors gathered in a meeting entitled Women4Climate ( women for the climate) that the center of the Italian capital would be banned from private diesel cars from 2024. Back in her city, she aired his speech on social networks. " Rome decided to ban the use of diesel vehicles in its historic center from 2024 ," said Virginia Raggi without giving more details during her speech.

Europe turns its back on diesel vehicles

Diesel has been in decline for several years in Europe and worldwide, which forces manufacturers to return massively to petrol engines and to accelerate the electrification of vehicles. On February 25, 2018, the British financial and economic daily Financial Times claimed that the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler (FCA) was to announce in June 2018 the abandonment of diesel for the motorization of its passenger cars. 2022 because of falling demand and rising costs. The following day, the German courts opened the way for bans on the movement of old diesel in cities.

A Paris diesel vehicles before 2005 will be banned " in the first semester 2019 ", announced in late January 2018 the mayor, Anne Hidalgo in an interview to Le Monde. Thus, the Crit'Air 4 (diesel vehicles from 2001 to 2005 Euro 3 standard) will be denied access to the French capital in the year 2019. Then it will be the turn in 2022 of Crit'Air 3 (Gasoline vehicles from 1997 to 2005 Euro 2 and 3 standard and diesel vehicles from 2006 to 2010 Euro 4 standard) " to arrive at the end of diesel in Paris in 2024 ," added Mrs. Hidalgo.

To prevent the disappearance of Lake Chad, an old controversial project exhumed

Avoiding the disappearance of Lake Chad: the urgency is very real, and to face it, experts gathered at his bedside exhumed Transaqua, a megaproject imagined in the 80s and controversial, which consists of filling the immense Dried oasis

The idea, particularly ambitious, is to dig a 2.600 km canal from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then across the Central African Republic, to the freshwater lake.

Transaqua has been for the last three days at the heart of a conference organized by the Nigerian government and Unesco, which brought together dozens of experts and diplomats in Abuja.

Lake Chad – Straddling Cameroon, Niger , Nigeria and Chad – has for some years been synonymous with Boko Haram, whose jihadist insurgency ravaged the region.

But climate change and the very poor management of water resources have caused a considerable decline. The lake has lost 90% of its surface area in 40 years.

The 40 million people living around and on the lake are among the poorest in the world, the UN estimates that a quarter of them need

The jihadi group took advantage of this vulnerability to recruit thousands of farmers and fishermen cut off from their livelihoods and set up rear bases on the islands of the lake.

– ' Unacceptable '-

 Fishermen prepare their nets on Lake Chad on March 30, 2015, near the village of Guite, Chad. (AFP / Archives - PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

Fishermen prepare their nets on Lake Chad on March 30, 2015, near the village of Guite, Chad. (AFP / Archives – PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

The Transaqua project, devised in 1982 by the Italian consulting and engineering firm Bonifica, involves immense technical and financial challenges, and never came into being. [19659002ButthearrivalofaChinesepartnerthePowerConstructionCorporationofChina(PowerChina)whichsignedanagreementin2017withthecompanybehindtheprojecthasrecentlyrevivedhopesandcriticismaroundtheproject

For its supporters, Transaqua is the only way to cope with the current humanitarian and environmental crisis.

"The transfer of water between the different basins (hydrographic) is not an option but a necessity" said Sanusi Abdullahi, executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, which oversees the use of water and natural resources.

"We are faced with the possibility that Lake Chad will disappear and it would be catastrophic for the whole the African continent. "

Little information has filtered out about the agreement that binds the Italian firm today to the giant PowerChina, except that the latter was commissioned to conduct a feasibility study.

" We We are working on projects here and we want to take on social responsibility, "PowerChina engineer Ziping Huang said.

– Duty of Cooperation –

But the project, which by one estimate could cost up to $ 14 billion dollars (11.5 billion euros), raises strong resistance in Kinshasa.

The transfer of Congolese waters to Lake Chad is "unacceptable", responded to the phone the senator of an opposition party, Modeste Mutinga, author of the book "The water war at the door of the DRC." ​​

This would amount to "disrupting the flow of the Congo River with consequences for ecosystems in the DRC," he explained. AFP. "We must not seek to solve a problem in a corner and create here in DR Congo."

Same reaction in the MP for the majority Bavon N'Sa Mputu Elima, former Minister of the Environment, for whom "We must solve the problems in the Lake Chad Basin: the misuse of water by Chadian farmers, increase the water quality of the rivers that feed this lake with water by the maintenance of the banks."

 A Chadian police boat patrols Lake Chad, straddling Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad on January 25, 2015. (AFP / Archives - SIA KAMBOU)

A Chadian police patrol boat on Lake Chad, straddling Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, on January 25, 2015. (AFP / Archives – SIA KAMBOU)

The technical and security challenges involved in a project like Transaqua are also discouraging. The gigantic canal should cross several countries with changing geography and entangled in chronic instability.

In addition to the Boko Haram fighters established around Lake Chad, the Central African Republic, in particular, is devastated by years of war and the abuses of groups armed forces that control vast areas.

And even if time is running out at the rate at which the waters of the lake are disappearing, Ziping Huang, of PowerChina, recognizes that launching such a project with the security situation that prevails today in the The region is "beyond the imagination of our company."

Remains another difficulty: to co-operate the four countries bordering the lake. "These countries must cooperate if they want to face these transnational risks, there is simply no other way to do it," said Florian Krampe, of the Institute's climate change and risk program. Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

"The question is, are the institutions ready?"

Pesticides, warming: agriculture has found "its limits"

Whether to reduce pesticides or to combat the effects of global warming on plants, agronomic research "progresses" and "gives rise to a lot of hope", explains to AFP the President of INRA , Philippe Mauguin.

"The general approach of the National Institute of Agricultural Research", presented this week at the Agriculture Fair, "focuses on the diversity of resources within a single species" to explain how "crosses of wild varieties naturally resistant to certain diseases can genetically reinforce varieties currently used in agriculture or arboriculture," said Mauguin in an interview on Wednesday.

Because according to him, l French agriculture as it has existed since the Second World War "has found its limits".

After the war, "we had organized the choices of varietal selections with the aim of feeding the country, and we have multiplied yields by three in a few decades thanks to genetic selections, inputs and agrochemistry. "

" But we saw the limits of this system in the late 1990s, with case of water pollution, especially via the effects induced by a weed-killer, atrazine, which was finally banned in 2003 but which leaves long-lasting effects ", underlines Mr. Mauguin.

For several years, Agriculture has tried to correct the side effects of chemistry on the earth and the environment, with "reasoned" practices that limit the use of pesticides.

"But the answers were not fast enough, and we saw the limits of the plan + Ecophyto +", launched by President Sarkozy in the wake of the Grenelle Environment Forum, admits the one who was director of cabinet from the previous Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll: "a simple optimization of the use of phytosanitary products is not enough".

– Radical Change –

After stating that "farmers do not use pesticides for pleasure, but to protect their crops, "Mr. Mauguin stresses that the goal is to" change the entire agricultural production system in a radical way. "

" But it is not obvious ", recognizes -he.

He presented Tuesday the new agronomic approaches under study to Ministers Frédérique Roussel (research) and Nicolas Hulot (Ecological Transition).

The first is the increase of biocontrol, that is to say Neutralization of aggressors with their predators, usually insects. Trichogramma, for example, destroys corn borer, which attacks maize in particular

The second approach is to improve varietal selection in order to make seed varieties more resistant to diseases and thus limit the use of chemical pesticides.

INRA presents on its stand the first four vine stocks from its research, carrying genes resistant to powdery mildew and mildew, which will reduce by more than 70% the use of pesticides on the market. vine: Vidoc, Voltis, Floreal and Artaban

"In January, we included in the catalog of varieties these first four resistant grape varieties, two for red wines and two for white wines," says Mauguin. INRA is expected to release about twenty more in 2019.

This approach is developed for all species. "We accompany the seed companies for the first stage of propagation" and then they continue, explains Mr. Mauguin.

On some species the work is very long and frustrating. For lettuce, for example, "in 20 years, we have found about 30 resistant genes, but the aggressors still bypass, defend themselves and we must constantly seek new resistant genes."

On the disputed herbicide glyphosate, INRA estimates that it is able to offer alternatives "that can be complicated to set up" for 80% to 90% of use cases.

"We evaluated technical dead ends between 10% and 20%", essentially in the field of soil conservation agriculture, says Mauguin.

This type of agriculture is of great interest in the fight against global warming, since by removing plowing, it can store carbon in the soil. But it requires the use of a weed killer once a year to clean the soil before sowing, to allow the seeds to grow.

Terrestrial wind: net decrease in tariffs for future installations

The price of electricity generated by future onshore wind turbine installations will be "significantly lower" than the previous purchase price, according to the first results of a call for tenders issued by the government on Wednesday, illustrating competitiveness growing renewable energies.

"The results are unambiguous: the maturity and competitiveness of onshore wind and more widely renewable energies are a reality," said the Minister of ecological transition and solidarity Nicolas Hulot, quoted

Twenty-two winners were selected to install onshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) and a weighted average price of 65.40 euros per megawatt hour. The last purchase tariff, set in 2017, was set by order at 72 euros / MWh and only applies to installations of less than 18 MW.

For Marion Lettry, Deputy Delegate General of the Renewable Energy Union (SER ), these results show that wind energy "can take an important place in the French energy mix", at a time when the government is working on the Multiannual Energy Program (PEE), roadmap of energy ambitions for the years to coming in.

The 500 MW awarded on Wednesday is only the first wave of a global tender of 3 GW to be spread out over three years

 Aeoliennes in Radenac (Morbihan), October 3, 2017 (AFP / Archives - DAMIEN MEYER)

Aeoliennes at Radenac (Morbihan), October 3rd, 2017 (AFP / Archives – DAMIEN MEYER)

This procedure is a first for the sector since the modification of the support mechanism to the wind power in France, occurred last year

Previously, the electricity thus produced was bought by EDF at a rate defined by the public authorities. Now, it will be sold at the market price, to which will be added a guaranteed remuneration supplement for twenty years, the candidates claiming the lowest complement being privileged.

A third of the projects will benefit in addition to a bonus to have participatory financing.

– "Need for stability" –

These results "will lead the government to favor this procedure (tender) for future projects by redefining the scope projects eligible for support in the form of a call for tenders and purchase price "(the former less competitive system Ed.).

For the SER as for France wind energy, the association which groups the industrialists of the sector, this announcement is a "bad signal" sent to the sector.

 Aeolian in Radenac (Morbihan), October 3, 2017 (AFP - DAMIEN MEYER)

Aeolian in Radenac (Morbihan), October 3, 2017 ( AFP – DAMIEN MEYER) [19659008] "We want things to be done in a progressive manner and in consultation with the sector," said Ms. Lettry, deeming "important to maintain these two devices to ensure a harmonious development of wind power throughout the territory", and not confined to the windiest or most accessible regions.

"The actors need stability," added France's wind energy, adding that the current regulations were just a year old. According to the association, extending the tendering system to smaller facilities risks "jeopardizing a number of projects."

These criticisms follow the more favorable reactions of mid-January, when M Hulot had unveiled measures to lift the brakes on onshore wind power.

Among the ten measures then presented included changing the distribution of tax benefits, increasing the share that municipalities receive for wind turbines, and removal of a level of jurisdiction for appeals, which will be dealt with directly by administrative courts of appeal

In 2017, 1,797 MW of wind turbines were connected to the grid according to the "Panorama of renewable electricity" broadcast at the beginning of February. "This is the best year ever," reacted to AFP Jean-Louis Bal, president of SER.