Energy renovation of buildings: Hulot wants a "shock of confidence"

The Minister of Ecological Transition Nicolas Hulot, who wants to create a "shock of confidence" of the French, presented Thursday in Angers his plan to promote the energy renovation of buildings, including through a simplification of aid schemes

"We must create a shock of confidence" French, said Nicolas Hulot on the occasion of a visit to a renovated high school in Angers. "Do not be afraid of works," he said.

To "involve them at all levels", it is however necessary "to clarify, fluidify and simplify all the devices", because often, "be the French do not know "these possibilities, or" are dissuaded "by their complexity, he detailed.

This is a major stake for the energy transition, since residential and tertiary buildings represent 45% of the country's energy consumption. The sector is responsible for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan, a first version of which was presented in November, provides for a "drastic effort to simplify" a large number of subsidies. complex, poorly articulated and often unrecognized, "insists the ministry.

The goal is to renovate 500,000 homes per year – an ambition already displayed, unsuccessfully, during the previous five years – by mobilizing 14 billion euros on five years, planned in the framework of the Big Investment Plan announced in September by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

In detail, the government posts the objective of 100,000 public housing units renovated by social landlords and targets 250,000 homes renovations per year, thanks to existing mechanisms such as the tax credit, zero-rate eco-loan (ECO-PTZ) and energy saving certificates.

Some of these mechanisms have encountered so far difficulties.

Launched in 2009 and granted without conditions of resources, the ECO-PTZ for example, is considered too complex and remains little distributed by the banks.

We must "try to provoke confidence in the banks.If they do not play their role, the state will play," warned Mr. Hulot.

– Simplified help –

The ECO-PTZ will be simplified in order to simplify the steps to obtain it. The operational implementation of the Guarantee Fund for Energy Renewal must also facilitate the distribution of this loan to the most modest.

Under the Energy Transition Law, this fund will have "more than 50 million euros" to help "35,000 low-income households a year."

The Transition Tax Credit (CITE) will be transformed into a premium in 2019, in order to allow households to receive financial assistance more quickly. Its method of calculation will be reviewed to take into account the energy efficiency of the works.

"The simplification of the aid is good news, but the measures announced remain too limited", estimated in a statement the Confederation of the craft and small business building (Capeb). The organization regrets that there is no mention of "the establishment of a one-stop shop for information and obtaining the various aid" because "facilitate the steps of households is a priority lever" , according to him.

The government plan also aims to renovate 150,000 "heat sieve" per year, particularly energy-intensive housing (labeled F or G). France has between 7 and 8 million, and they are occupied in particular by modest households for which the financial stake is very important, a poorly insulated housing costing heating expenses.

This plan "remains insufficiently ambitious" for renovate "energy sieves" by 2025, responded in a statement the Rénovons Initiative, which brings together companies and NGOs. The group stresses in particular that the plan does not provide for "any additional large-scale financing" compared to the previous five-year period.

The government also intends to "make the housing energy label more reliable" and the Energy Performance Diagnosis (EPD) to establish "more confidence."

The state will also act on its own housing stock to "make public buildings exemplary buildings", renovating a quarter of them in five years. The local authorities will also be able to benefit from 3 billion euros of loans from the Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) over the five-year period.

The government has planned to create an observatory to assess the impact of these measures and to statistically monitor the housing stock.

Nice defends a "100% natural solution" to save its palms

To treat its palm trees, one third of which has already been infested with red weevil, a large insect, the city of Nice presented Thursday a solution called "100% natural", based on a new strain of fungi.

The municipality, said Jean-Michel Meuriot, botanist expert of the City of Nice, will treat its 1,500 date palms and palm trees of the Canary Islands with a mushroom, Beauveria bassiana, whose strain 111 obtained in March a license of placing on the market (AMM). This fungus attacks larvae of the red weevil, which dig galleries and eventually kill the palm tree if the infestation is not detected in time.

"We will start strong enough with a shock action", said the expert, stating that it will renew the treatment "four times" a year, in addition to another method "bio" based on nematodes, worms that devour the larvae of the weevil.

This solution is "100% organic", assures this expert, which indicates that the city refuses to treat with conventional products, in spite of the legal obligations, "for reasons of public health".

The strain 111 of the mushroom, development by the Var company Vegetech, is manufactured by the multinational Arysta Lifescience. Treatment, the cost of which has not been communicated, is entrusted to a private provider.

The precautions for use of this product recalled in the MA mention in particular a prohibition to approach the treated specimen for six hours, which will oblige to carry out the treatment at night, as well as the prohibition to treat in the presence of bees.

Experienced in two parks of the city since several months, this solution however has detractors. Four hundred people living near one of these parks signed a petition in November calling for "organic treatments to be replaced by approved treatments". According to these residents, of the 65 palm trees in the park, only 20 survived, figures contested by the municipality.

"We need this type of treatment, such as fungi, but to treat residual foci, not for a collective struggle which must also involve the private owners ", also reproaches Daniel Chabernaud, vice-president of the association Propalmes 83.

This last one puts forward the results of a conventional method, with the injection of a insecticide product in the trunk of the palm tree. Implemented in the Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël agglomeration community, this method has a failure rate of less than 1.5%, ie 39 palms infested at the end of 2017 out of 2,701 treated in June 2016.

West African gorillas more than expected but still at risk

Although chimpanzees and gorillas may be more numerous than previous estimates in West Africa suggest, these monkeys, whose populations are declining, are still in danger and in need of protection, says a study. published Wednesday.

Nearly 362,000 western lowland gorillas live in western equatorial Africa, an area where there are also 129,000 chimpanzees, according to a study published by Science Advances.

Initially, these numbers were to be between 150,000 and 250,000 for gorillas, and between 70,000 and 117,000 for chimpanzees.

In addition, 80% of great apes live outside protected areas, according to this projection made by a mathematical model in areas where they are not directly identified.

"Normally, each national park or protected area makes an estimate of its animals," says Dr. Fiona Maisels of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), co-author of the study.

To arrive at the new figures from the study "we found a way to count animals" that are not included in previous censuses, focusing for 11 years on 59 sites in five countries, she tells AFP. [19659002Researchersare"delighted"tohaveamoreaccurateestimateofthesedatasheaddsbutthatdoesnotchangethefactthatgorillasandchimpanzeesremainanendangeredspecies

"What worries us Gorillas are disappearing at 2.7% per annum. "

At this rate, in three generations the number of gorillas will have fallen by 80% from its present level.

19.4 % of their population has already disappeared between 2005 and 2013.

"Another disturbing thing is the fact that Most gorillas and chimpanzees do not live in protected areas, "she says.

Nearly 60% of the known population of gorillas and 43% of chimpanzees are in Congo Brazzaville.

Although it is illegal to kill gorillas anywhere in the world, hunting remains the first threatens their survival, disease and loss of their natural habitat.

More effort is needed to combat poaching, both in and out of protected areas, the study adds. [19659002] Better land use planning could also help preserve the natural habitat of these animals.

"Since gorillas are more numerous and chimpanzees are more ecologically resistant than originally planned (…) we are confident that strong protection policies, well-managed parks and responsible industrial practices can put an end to them. decline, "the study concludes.

Ukraine marks the 32nd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster

Ukraine on Thursday commemorated the 32nd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear accident in history that has contaminated much of Europe but especially Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, then Soviet republics.

"Chernobyl will forever remain an open wound in the heart of our country," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on his Facebook page, calling for "do everything possible to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again".

 Priest participates in a commemorative ceremony, April 26, 2018, in Slavutitch, about fifty km from Chernobyl, for the 32nd anniversary of the accident of the Ukrainian nuclear power station. (AFP - Genya SAVILOV)

A priest participates in a commemorative ceremony on April 26, 2018, in Slavutich, about fifty km from Chernobyl, for the 32nd anniversary of the accident at the Ukrainian nuclear power station. (AFP – Genya SAVILOV)

In the night, several hundred people gathered for a memorial ceremony at Slavutitch, about fifty kilometers from the power station, where most of his staff live today.

On April 26, 1986, at 1:23 am, the Chernobyl No. 4 reactor, about 100 kilometers north of Kiev, exploded during a safety test. For ten days, the nuclear fuel burned, releasing into the atmosphere radioactive elements that, according to some estimates, contaminated up to three quarters of Europe.

Moscow first tried to hide the accident. Although the first public warning was issued on April 28 by Sweden, which had detected an increase in radioactivity, Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev intervened publicly only on May 14.

In total, almost 350,000 people were evacuated over several years within a radius of 30 kilometers around the power plant.

In four years, some 600,000 Soviets were dispatched to the scene with little or no protection to extinguish the fire and then build a concrete screed to isolate the damaged reactor and clean the surrounding areas

The human toll of the disaster is still debated, with estimates ranging from 30 to 100,000 deaths.

Three other Chernobyl reactors continued to produce electricity until December 2000. After years of procrastination, a gigantic waterproof steel arch was finally installed in late 2016 above the damaged reactor.

With a cost of 2.1 billion euros, financed by the international community, this structure covered the old "sarcophagus" in concrete, cracked and unstable, and allowed to better isolate the highly radioactive magma remained in the reactor

Result: the radioactivity rate in the vicinity of the plant has been reduced by ten in one year, according to official estimates.

32 years after Chernobyl, the rise of nuclear tourism in Ukraine

The site of Chernobyl is that of the worst accident nuclear of History. It has also become, in recent years, a tourist attraction. Visitors from around the world are now flocking to this city of Ukraine to contemplate the stigmata of the catastrophe. The numbers are constantly growing. Thus, last year, in 2017, some 50,000 people (including 70% foreigners) went to Chernobyl, an increase of 35% compared to 2016 … and 350% compared to 2012! At the main entrance to the exclusion zone, there is even a souvenir kiosk with t-shirts decorated with black and yellow radioactivity symbols and Soviet khaki rubber gas masks.

"J'en I was tired of Ikea, Mango, Zara … I wanted to see something totally different, like Chernobyl "

Maja Bandic, a 50-year-old Croat, came specifically to this country to visit this infamous 4th reactor exploded on April 26, 1986 contaminating a large part of Europe. " I was sick of museums and buildings, globalization … Every city starts to look like, Ikea, Mango, Zara … I wanted to see something totally different, like Chernobyl ] ", she explains to AFP, in the middle of the contaminated and still uninhabited exclusion zone, which surrounds the plant within a radius of 30 kilometers.

Some people even made this new attraction a business. Viktor Khartchenko is the manager of the Go2chernobyl.com travel agency. Since 2012 he has organized trips to this site. For him, this tourist boom is due to two key factors: the 30th anniversary of the disaster in 2016 and the installation the same year of a new metal containment dome above the accident reactor, which allowed to reduce sharply leaks of radioactive material. These two events have been widely covered by the international media.

" This has no doubt alleviated the fears of those who were reluctant to travel to Chernobyl ," said Viktor Khartchenko. He assures that these trips are safe. " A day spent in the area is equivalent to two hours of flight over the Atlantic Ocean in terms of radiation absorbed ," says the manager of Go2chernobyl.com. However, some tourists admit to fear further radiation. Joel Alvaretto, an Argentinian student, claims to have " a little bit afraid of radiation, and we say we can see the effects of radiation many years later, but I do not know." But on leaving Chernobyl, everyone is forced to pass radiation controls.

Reclaiming these abandoned lands by nature is fascinating visitors

Viktor Khartchenko's agency is not the only one to offer a excursion to Chernobyl. Thus, several Ukrainian travel agencies offer stays in the city of one to seven days, and the price range between 25 and 650 euros. On the program: visit of the new screed covering the damaged reactor, abandoned villages, feeding of gigantic catfish living in the radioactive waters of a cooling channel … In some places, small portable dosimeters of visitors are beeping in disorder signaling high radiation levels. " A true symphony! ", quips a tourist.

The highlight of the visit is Pripiat, a ghost town located only a few kilometers from the power plant and of which almost 50,000 inhabitants had been evacuated in three hours on April 27, 1986 to never return home. You can see abandoned residential buildings, schools where children's toys, books or handwritten notes still hang, an amusement park whose big wheel still rises in the central square. " It's very cool to see all this, to see how a whole city is now a remnant of what it once was ," says Adam Ridemar, a Swedish student with his father see this "cult place". He is surprised by the exuberant vegetation. " I was expecting instead to find concrete jungle here ," he says. The reclaiming by nature of these abandoned lands, where asphalt roads are narrowing, eaten little by little by wild grasses and houses disappear behind the growing bush, fascinates many visitors. " It proves that nature is stronger than humans, and that's fine, it's the power of God ," says Bandic. People play with dangerous things they have the sun, the wind and do not need nuclear energy, too dangerous "