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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Will we be retired before the world’s end?

Many events, not always happy, are currently filling most of our news. Hoping not to dampen your spirits too much, let's get started!

On Monday, a new IPCC report was published. The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of the United Nations whose sole task is to synthesize scientific knowledge on climate change; its causes, consequences and possible measures to deal with and minimize it. The latest report spans the years between 2015 and 2021.

This sixth report is unsurprisingly no less alarming than the previous ones. The first statement of this report by climate experts and scientists is unambiguous: "human activities have unequivocally caused global warming". Although it may seem obvious that human activities are causing global warming, this is not yet the case for everyone. Indeed, in 2019, a survey by the World Economic Forum showed that one out of three people in the world remains unaware that we are causing excessive greenhouse gas emissions. (World Economic Forum)

The report also evokes that yearly global surface temperatures have already warmed by more than 1.1% compared to 1850. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, we would have to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, which seems like a miracle. Numerous projects, considered to be climate bombs such as the Willow Project in Alaska (an oil drilling project located on the North Slope Plain in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve) are already undertaken, reducing this tiny hope to zero. The second key conclusion of this synthesis: "3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change" (IPCC), which sadly represents 1 out of 2 of the planet's inhabitants. The tense of this quote is in the present tense, not the future. This is even more alarming. The consequences are worse than what experts had predicted in the past.

In terms of solutions, there are two major things to do according to the IPCC. Firstly, limiting the consequences for the population as much as possible through reforming the health system; preparing infrastructures for extreme climatic events (forest fires, heat, flooding). The second one is to tackle the cause of climate change itself by considerably reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Those are caused in particular by the massive use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas- on which we are mainly dependent. Also, even further development in renewable energy production and a sharp reduction in the global demand for energy are required. The IPCC calls for behavioral changes at the level of states, companies and individuals. Everyone is concerned about this and needs to drastically change their lifestyle.

The news is also very busy concerning the current turbulent situation in France.

Emmanuel Macron had included the retirement reform in the program of his candidacy for re-election in May 2022. It would mainly establish the postponement of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years old. But also, the abolition of special regimes for difficult jobs, and the end of the consideration of the majority of criteria of arduousness, to mention only some restrictive measures.

This same Emmanuel Macron was firmly opposed in April 2019 to this reform, judging the postponement to 64 years as "hypocritical" and contrary to his commitments.

The current draft law was approved on March 16 this year by the National Assembly via Article 49.3 of the Constitution. This article allows the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, to hold the Government accountable, before the National Assembly, to adopt a draft law without proceeding to the vote of the Assembly.

The debates in the chamber only lasted 50 days because of Article 47.1, which provides that if the national Assembly has not taken a decision on the first reading under 20 days, the Government should refer the matter to the Senate, which must in turn take a decision under 15 days before appearing to the Joint committee. Therefore, 50 days really isn’t enough for a draft with such breadth. It is regrettable that such a reform could not be the subject of extensive debates, sanctioned by the vote of the deputies.

Faced with this power grab, MPs opposed to the reform tabled a “motion de censure” on 20.03, which could have led to the collective resignation of the cabinet. However it was rejected by only nine votes, those of the members of the right-wing party “Les Républicains”.

Since the beginning of the examination of the law project, many demonstrations have taken place in France: not only in major cities but throughout the whole country. 70% of French people are against this reform (BFMTV). Against working 2 years longer. Against the fact that the harshness of certain jobs is not taken into account. Against having to work deep into their retirement age to be able to afford a viable pension. Against dying at the job. Even though the pension system is not in financial danger, the same people are always asked to make efforts.

Faced with the Government's hard-nosed position, which refused to hear the voice of the people, the protest movement hardened: in addition to the many demonstrations and road blockades, strikes in road, air and rail transport, and oil refineries led to fuel shortages and transit chaos all over France

This movement of social rebellion was constituted by all French people: from high school students to retirees, from orchestral musicians to firefighters millions of people are expressing their anger.

The President's speech on 22 March did not ease tensions: he confirmed that he would maintain the reform, still deaf to the multiple demands from the demonstrators. In addition to the anger generated by the pension reform, the sharp rise in the cost of living, its denial of the impoverishment of the country, and the destruction of social models of health and education, in particular, led to a growing feeling of anger among French people, tired of numerous financial scandals (such as the recent scandal surrounding McKinsey where they have been paid 1.5 billion euros but do not pay any taxes in France).

The very violent response of the police forces added even more fuel to the fire. Many trash bins and cars were burned (waste disposal personnel being on strike in many large cities resulting in streets filled with trash) and violence was heavily prevalent. The country is on the verge of a revolution. Its future now depends on the decision of the Constitutional Council to which a bill on the legal retirement age has been submitted, with a view to the organization of a referendum of the shared initiative. Within a month the fate of millions of French people will be sealed.

This deep-seated protest movement made the issue of police violence resurface, which is omnipresent in the country. On Saturday, during a demonstration against a proposed mega-agricultural basin in Poitou-Charentes (in the West of France), violent clashes took place between demonstrators and the police. This event reflects the latent tension of recent weeks, during which many similar cases of police violence were filmed and shared across media, highlighting another problem with the French system.

For more reading on the IPCC and their resolutions:


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