For its very first edition, the PowR Earth Summit did things in a big way, with the arrival of Barak Obama, the former President of the United States, known for his commitments in favor of the environment. For an hour, he looked back on his actions when he was in the White House, but also his convictions. The opportunity also for the promoters of the event dedicated to the energy transition, which is being held from March 13 to 15 in La Défense, to quickly gain notoriety!

Barak Obama placed the energy transition at the heart of the recovery measures undertaken to respond to the 2007-2008 crisis. “We first had to repair a system that could have led us into a great depression. Short-term measures to help people who needed it were not enough, it was also necessary to really rebuild the infrastructure, particularly those related to energy. At that time, solar and wind were just starting to take off in the United States. With the depression, we were potentially at risk of losing this entire industry.” History has shown that the public support then released enabled the country to begin equipping itself with renewable energies. “Coal represented 46% of the country’s energy consumption. When I left the presidency this share was divided by two.

“Economic growth is entirely compatible with the transition agenda. But there is a cost. The real question is: who bears the cost? In the United States, where everyone drives, we must recognize that not everyone can afford a Tesla. Raising the price of fossil fuels to push people to switch to renewable energies risks creating strong resistance to the energy transition,” he warns.

Barak Obama returned to the signing of the Paris agreements. “It was very long. It started eight years earlier in Copenhagen in 2009. Europe wanted to reduce carbon emissions, unlike developing countries, led by BRICS, who didn’t want to hear about it. The developed world caused the problem and was still, in 2009, responsible for most carbon dioxide emissions. “So we had to find another formula.” “The prime minister of China and the prime minister of India were running away from me, I was told they had left for the airport and I looked for them and found them and they signed. The Europeans were disappointed to see that the objectives were not binding, but the fact that China and India signed was essential because of the size of their populations. This agreement laid the foundation for the next six years of negotiations with President Xi Jiping.

In Paris, he again had to seek out Indian leaders to bring them back to the table. Getting 190 countries to agree introduced the notion of urgency around the climate problem.

For Barak Obama, the actions of his successor in the White House “speak for themselves”. He won’t say more. If not to underline an “interruption” in the measures he had put in place, before Joe Biden restarted the machine, investing massively again.

He also warned against the systemic blockages that come from the general public, the “anti-establishment” positions, which slow down the developments that are nevertheless necessary to respond to the challenges of the energy transition. “If we use the technologies available today, we can reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 30 percent, without the need for significant investments.”

Beyond climate issues, the protection of biodiversity is one of the actions in which he is committed. “Humans, we have many great qualities, but we have a disastrous effect on our habitat.” “When feeding your family is your main concern, saving an animal doesn’t matter, nor does saving a forest.” He also remembered his sister, who in Kenya told him: “White people love to look at the animals in the reserves, but they don’t take care of the people.” If nature conservation is for the benefit of the poorest, then they will find it in their interest.

“Earth will always be more habitable than Mars, this is not an argument against space exploration, we were designed for this planet and it would be good if we kept it viable. Nature always wins. It’s not about saving the planet, it’s about saving us. Life will always go on. This commitment is not purely altruistic!” he added, calling for ever more investment in the energy transition and the fight against climate change.

“I wish environmental advocates would focus a little more on actions. Instead of talking about the hundreds of billions that we are going to spend later, let’s focus on simple, effective, attractive solutions.

Barak Obama also paid vibrant tribute to French know-how in nuclear power! “In France, a large part of electricity production comes from nuclear power: if this program is so successful, it is because the French have built several reactors on the same model. The United States built reactors that were all different from each other and the system collapsed. It’s the same in renewable energies, for it to work, you have to move to an industrial scale.”

He has also, on several occasions, insisted on the fundamental role of younger generations in this climate transition. Without ever uttering his old campaign slogan, he demonstrated constant optimism about humanity’s ability to improve our environment. “The biggest challenge is not convincing young people that climate change is important, but that they can do something to improve things. We act better out of hope than out of despair!”