These are the iron and steel sites of Dunkirk, cement factories present almost everywhere in the territory, chemical factories in the Grand Est, the Berre pond or Normandy, glassworks or sugar production sites in the North of France. .

Just back from COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Emmanuel Macron is meeting their leaders at 3:00 p.m. with the intention of accelerating the fight against climate change, after a first five-year term deemed too timid in the matter by his detractors.

Their common point is to emit considerable quantities of C02 in the atmosphere, either because they burn gas to heat their installations, or because they extract certain chemical elements (hydrogen for example) from methane and reject CO2.

In France, industry (excluding transport and energy production) represents “about 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions”, it is said at the Elysée, which intends to include the decarbonization of industry among the objectives of the ecological planning launched for Emmanuel Macron’s second five-year term.

On their own, the fifty sites whose representatives are expected under the golds of the Elysée represent half of the industry’s emissions, ie 10% of the country’s total emissions.

“The goal is to lower emissions without lowering production,” says one at the presidential palace.

This means in many cases: changing the source of energy by abandoning fossil fuels (oil or gas) to turn to electricity that does not emit CO2, either green (wind or solar), or nuclear, or even carbon-free hydrogen, produced from carbon-free electricity. And in other cases, to capture and sequester the CO2 emitted or to reuse it in the industrial process.

– Massive investments –

This also presupposes massive investments likely to increase production costs and weaken the competitiveness of the companies concerned in the face of international competitors less in a hurry to decarbonize.

After decades of industrial relocations and a timid start to the reindustrialization of France since 2020, the Elysée Palace is thus concerned to see investors turn to other continents and in particular to the United States where a green investment plan enticing (Inflation reduction Act) was launched by the Biden administration.

“The whole key is to ensure that decarbonization does not turn into massive relocation,” we admit at the Elysée.

“The key will be the amount of public aid that will be granted” to help industrialists, underlines Vincent Charlet, economist at the Fabrique de l’Industrie.

“Without public aid, entire sectors risk disappearing” in France and in Europe, he adds, citing the base metals sector, the most exposed, which “does not have enough profit margin to support the cost of its decarbonization” but also those of “chemicals, paper-cardboard, cement or glass, as well as air transport”.

“The fact that the Elysée is organizing such a meeting when the subject has been worked on for a long time between the sectors and the central energy and Bercy administrations is very good news”, he adds to AFP. , “and if public co-financing could be announced on this occasion, it would be a very good signal”.