The complex challenges and opportunities of the industrial and energy sectors (IESs) in the time of climate politics: carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) in France as a case study

Catégorie : Article dans une revue

Auteur(s) : Régis Briday , Sébastien Chailleux , Xavier Arnauld de Sartre

Nom de la revue : Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies

Année de publication : 2024


Résumé :

This article contributes to the history of both climate policies and industrial and energy sectors (IESs) dynamics in France, through the analysis of discourses and practices around a climate technology: CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation, and storage). We show that while CCUS has been continuously promoted as a decarbonisation technology in speeches, the main goal of its promoters in practice has instead been research and R&D cooperation, plus funding. With rare exceptions, CCUS has remained politically disconnected from the issues of energy independence and deindustrialisation. This brings into question the French technocratic and political elites’ commitment to undertaking these two missions. Of course, some public players stress that they do not want to confuse the debate over CCUS, or make it more controversial, since reindustrialisation tends to generate new domestic CO2 emissions. Nonetheless, other factors can explain the very marginal space made for energy independence and deindustrialisation in the CCUS discourses. Firstly, many members of the political, expertise, and industrial elites demonstrate a certain self-satisfaction over the level of decarbonisation and energy independence, mainly related to France’s unique development of nuclear power. Secondly, the issue of reindustrialisation has always been rather low on the French governmental agenda. Besides this, the practices of CCUS promoters raise a democratic problem. Firstly, most public planners still think of the question of decarbonisation in a way that is rather disconnected from other issues of public action. Secondly, decisions about IESs and climate are still often made in a classic State-centred technocratic problem-management style, and/or are kept in a confined technical sphere. By studying the case of CCUS, this article both contributes to the complex history of French IESs in the time of climate politics, and opens up the present debates over decarbonisation and IESs to greater complexity.


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