Guyana: WWF reiterates opposition to mining project before public debate

WWF detailed on Tuesday its opposition to the "Montagne d'Or" mining project in Guyana, supported by Emmanuel Macron when he was minister, a few days before the first public meetings.

the environment "is committed against this project after analyzing it" from an environmental and economic point of view, said Pascal Canfin, Director General of WWF France, during a conference call.

The project, carried by the Russo-Canadian consortium Nordgold-Columbus Gold, plans the exploitation of a mine, from 2022, in a zone with 125 km by track south of the city of Saint-Laurent du Maroni, in the middle of the rainforest, and allow the creation of 750 direct jobs.

The biggest project of primary gold extraction ever proposed in France plans to dig a pit equivalent to 32 times the stadium of France.

It is the object of public debate until July 7 in French Guiana, with the The first public meetings at the beginning of April

This industrial project "is an economic aberration and an aberration in terms of the return on the public money invested", estimated Mr. Canfin

The project would require 420 million euros public money, or 560,000 euros per direct job created, calculates the NGO. The latter defends another model of economic development based for example on eco-tourism for this region where the unemployment rate is higher than 20%.

For the WWF, this project will not be able to fight against gold panning illegal. "This is completely wrong," said Canfin, arguing that the areas and methods used are very different.

The NGO also points out the risks to the environment, with a site located in near the largest biological reserve in France, the use of significant amount of cyanide or deforestation. There are "major industrial risks", said Laurent Kelle, head of WWF France's Guyana office.

WWF is still concerned that this project, if completed, will lead to other similar projects. "One of the fears we have is that Golden Mountain opens the Pandora's box," worried Pascal Quéru, an economist at WWF France.

The project was supported by Emmanuel Macron when he was minister of Economy, but it is rejected by the Minister of the ecological transition, Nicolas Hulot.

It also faces the opposition of customary chiefs in this French territory in South America, whereas some politicians and entrepreneurs are in favor.

The government opens a debate on the energy trajectory of France

The government, which is working on France's energy roadmap, opens a debate on this delicate subject on Monday, amid concerns over the place that will be given to nuclear power.

This public consultation, which will be held until June 30, will address topics such as the positioning of various renewable energy sectors and security of supply.

It will take place as part of the preparation of the multiannual energy program (EPP) for the period 2019-2023, which must put France on the right track to achieve its long-term objectives, among which the reduction of 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 compared to 1990 and 32% of renewable energies in consumption (40% of production) in 2030.

The roadmap must also be to tackle the sensitive issue of reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity generation. After having decided to reduce it by 75 to 50% by 2025, the government has not set a deadline to achieve this goal.

"It all depends on the use we will make of biogas , hydrogen, storage and our ability to change scale in the development of renewable energies ", recently warned the Minister of Ecological Transition Nicolas Hulot.

Because the government wants to avoid compensating for the decline in nuclear energy through the use of fossil fuels, which would increase greenhouse gas emissions and compromise France's climate commitments.

– Industrial and social issues –

Moreover, Mr Hulot indicated that he did not intend to "brutalize" EDF to get out of nuclear power and he asked the electrician to develop his own scenario for PEP.

The current nuclear fleet includes 58 reactors, including Fessenheim (Haut-Rhin ) that will normally close at the end of the year, when the fuel will be loaded into the new Flamanville EPR. EDF does not wish to stop others before 2029.

"There are our objectives in terms of energy policy (…) and what EDF says on social, economic and investment criteria", said Thursday the Secretary of State for Ecological Transition Sebastien Lecornu on the sidelines of a visit to the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), insisting on the need to reach a 50% share of the atom " within a reasonable time "while having" an industrial and social vision. "

For the moment, the government has chosen as a basis for discussion two scenarios developed by the manager of the electricity transmission network RTE, involving the closure of nine or 16 nuclear reactors by 2035. He dismissed other proposals targeting a larger number of reactors.

– 'Truncated Debate' –

NGOs said last week fearing "a truncated debate "in the context of the abolition of the energy roadmap, considering that it obscures the question of nuclear security and lacks ambition.

"The government does not put the real debates around the table, we will do it" Anne Bringault, from the NGO CLER, said:

France Nature Environnement, WWF, the Foundation for Nature and Man, Greenpeace, the Network for the Future of Nuclear Energy, CLER and Climate Action Network presented a series of proposals , among which massive renovation of private housing, strengthen renewable energies and drastically reduce the share of nuclear energy.

These NGOs also wish to see the number of reactors to close registered in the EPP.

The question arises also which will be the reactors concerned by the judgments.

"The EPP is a big decree – are there any lists of targeted reactors in this big decree that are the subject of discussions and work meetings right now, "commented Mr. Lecornu.

A first version of the text must be presented before the summer, for adoption by the end of the year.

Public debate on the multi-year energy plan begins on March 15, 2018

What is the Multi-Year Energy Plan (EPP)?

Created by the Energy Transition Law of 2015 multi-year energy programs are used to predict development trajectories of the different modes of production of electricity and heat in the hexagon and in overseas departments. Investments must be in accordance with the objectives of the Act:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030 and divide by four by 2050.
  • Reduce final energy consumption by 50% in 2050 compared to 2012 with an intermediate target of 20% in 2030.
  • Reduce the consumption of gas, oil and coal by 30% in 2030 compared to 2012.
  • Increase the share of energy 23% of the final gross energy consumption in 2020 and 32% in 2030. Today we are at 18%.
  • Multiply by five the amount of renewable heat and cold delivered by heat and cold by 2030.
  • Reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity generation by 2025.

What are the possible scenarios?

If the objectives are well defined, the trajectories are harder to imagine . This is why the State, which is the owner of the public debate, proposes to support the debates on two of the four scenarios developed by Transmission Network (RTE) the manager of 100,000 kilometers of high and medium voltage lines

The "Ampère" scenario examines the reduction of nuclear power in relation to the development of renewable energies. By 2035, there would still be a 46% share of nuclear power generation. This scenario predicts a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. © RTE

The "Volt" scenario examines the evolution of nuclear power and renewable energies according to economic opportunities. In this scenario, nuclear power remains central both in national production of electricity and export capacity, particularly to Germany, which is expected to face the shutdown of its coal plants. The scenario allows for a significant reduction of greenhouse gases. © RTE

Where are the controversies?

As since the beginning of the French nuclear program, it is the place of the atom in the French energy mix that is controversial to the point of relegating to second place the questions of production heat, insulation of buildings, conversion of the car fleet from oil to electricity. The government is responsible for this situation, which risks diverting public debate from its objectives. Nicolas Hulot indeed publicly announced last November that the goal of reducing the share of nuclear to 50% in 2025 yet enshrined in the law was not feasible and was postponed by a few years. EDF subsequently declared that it would not consider any closure (outside the Fessenheim power plant) before 2029. Finally, the two scenarios chosen for the debate are those with the least number of nuclear reactor closures (16 for Ampère, 9 for Volt horizon 2035). For the Climate Action Network (RAC) these scenarios involve leaving about twenty reactors in operation beyond fifty years, which poses security problems.

What are the objectives of the debate? public

For the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) there are four:

  • To inform the public about energy projects and issues.
  • To allow the expression of various actors: elected representatives, institutions, unions, associations, NGOs, consumers, residents
  • Enabling everyone to take cognizance of each other's positions and arguments
  • Enlighten the State by providing new ideas or reflections

What are the tools of public debate?

The National Commission of Public Debate will use all the consultation tools invented over the last twenty years

Meetings will be organized in all regions, with specific focus on territories with positive energy metropolises, rural territories. Meetings with target audiences: young people, consumers, businesses, artisans and traders, precarious energy are planned.

Finally an innovation: the G400. 400 people will be drawn from 15 March. These "ordinary citizens" will be kept informed of the exchanges. In June, they will have to decide on the topics that generated the most discussions.

Will the opinion of the citizens be listened to?

The government assures it: the definitive EPP will only be drafted in the second half of 2018 and will incorporate the contributions of the public debate. It has already happened that citizen proposals have modified projects. This is the case of Cigeo radioactive waste landfill center where the 17-person novice panel on the issue had imposed a pre-industrial phase on the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra). she had not planned.

Cigeo: a national debate will take place on nuclear waste

CONSULTATION. Secretary of State for Minister of Environmental Transition Sébastien Lecornu announced on March 7, 2018 that the government would seize the National Commission of Public Debate for the organization of a large national consultation on the future of nuclear waste in the autumn. The announcement comes the day after demonstrations of opponents against the project of burying the most radioactive waste on the Cigeo site in Bure (Meuse) . For Sébastien Lecornu " everything will have to be put on the table to answer the questions that the French are asking ".

In addition to the debate, a website will gather all the technical files, the political contributions, the scientific works and even the press articles devoted to the subject since it emerged in the late 1980s. This resource center will be run by the State via its Directorate-General for Energy and Climate ( DGEC) of the Ministry of Ecological Transition as well as the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and the Institute of Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) . In addition, a forum for dialogue between experts and civil society will meet each quarter scientists, parliamentarians, unions, NGOs, " and even philosophers ", said Sebastien Lecornu.

A debate without time constraint [19659004] ALTERNATIVES. For the government, it is about getting out of a local conflict and moving towards a national debate on the legacy of the nuclear industry. " The waste is there, generated by four decades of nuclear power generation, we must decide their future and in the current state of the debate, burying in Bure is the least bad solutions " Sebastien Lecornu who is willing to study a reasonable alternative if it emerges. Opponents argue for a shallow storage in order to recover the containers if technical progress allowed to recycle. The secretary of state is pleased that the debate on Cigeo can take place without time constraint since no major stage of the project will take place during this five-year period.

Cigeo has already given rise in 2013 to a public debate circumscribed areas close to the Bure site. It was a fiasco because of the demonstrations preventing the holding of the debates and binding to a retreat on the Internet . Opponents have denounced an empty debate, the decision to make the landfill is – according to them – already taken. By now choosing a national scale, the government hopes – especially thanks to the Internet – to involve all the French and thus give weight to decisions on the future of radioactive waste. So far only pro and anti-Cigeo activists have spoken. The challenge is to make the whole of the national community speak.

Green light for the appointment of Chantal Jouanno to the National Commission of Public Debate

Parliament gave Wednesday the green light for the Elysee nominations of former Minister Chantal Jouanno at the head of the National Commission for Public Debate, and Arnaud Leroy, former spokesman for Emmanuel Macron during the presidential campaign at the head of the Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (Ademe)

These appointments were to be confirmed by the competent committees of the two chambers.

Former UDI de Paris senator received 29 votes in favor, 1 against, 3 blank or void ballots and 1 abstention in the Committee on Planning and Sustainable Development of the Senate

The relevant committee of the Assembly The National Assembly, for its part, declared by 28 votes in favor, 4 against and 4 abstentions.

M. Leroy, for his part, won 22 votes in favor, 1 against and 4 blank or void ballots in the Senate, and 35 votes in favor and 5 abstentions to the Assembly.

Ms. Jouanno announced in July her departure from politics after having was champion of karate then minister of Nicolas Sarkozy (Ecology then Sport). She succeeds former prefect Christian Leyrit, 69.

Created in 1995, the National Commission for Public Debate's mission is "to inform citizens and to ensure that their point of view is taken into account. the decision-making process for major development projects and equipment of national interest. "

In particular, it was seized for the Cigeo project for the disposal of radioactive waste in Bure (Meuse), for the EuropaCity project in Ile -de-France, or for the gold-bearing project Montagne d'Or in Guyana or for a third subway line in Toulouse.

M. Leroy, 41, former MP (PS) of the French from abroad, is a member of the executive bureau of La République en Marche after being part of the triumvirate at the head of the presidential party between the elections of the spring and the election of Christophe Castaner as general delegate

He succeeds Bruno Léchevin, former trade unionist and ex-Mediator of energy, who was appointed in 2013 by François Hollande.