1 More ecology
Global confinements and their consequences on trade or industry have led to a sudden drop of 7% in CO2 emissions in 2020, according to the UN. Insufficient, she warns: they should be reduced by 7.6% per year until 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C.
In the opinion of many economists, reducing travel, especially business travel, is a lasting achievement of the “next world”, and perhaps the only one. For Claudia Sénik, professor at the Paris School of Economics, “all that absurd stuff, like traveling to a conference that only lasts one day, I think it’s over”. The abandonment of the extension of Roissy airport illustrates this awareness.
“I think the crisis will not leave revolutionary change. Less use of air transport, increased use of teleworking: yes, but that’s not a revolution, ”nuance Olivier Blanchard, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
2 Consume differently
In mid-May, a hundred personalities and elected officials from the left had called in a forum to “turn the page on productivism”, the pandemic having revealed “the impasse of current consumption patterns”.
In a citizen consultation conducted by Sciences-Po between April and July with 5,700 people, 46% of respondents mentioned the priority to “reasoned” consumption, favoring short circuits and local production. “Post-Covid 19 ecology has become everyone’s business,” noted the authors of this survey.
But as soon as the confinement was lifted, household consumption rebounded, allowing France to post growth of 18.5% in the third quarter. Ditto in December, where Amazon recorded historic sales during the Black Friday promotional period. And this demand has notably benefited China, in respect of which the French trade deficit widened further in 2020.
The Nobel laureate in economics Esther Duflo considers this phenomenon of “catching up” to growth “normal”, and not “necessarily” incompatible with trade-offs in favor of ecology and lower inequalities.
3 Relocate productions
The shortage of masks or anesthetics has highlighted the extent of French dependence. The need to regain control of global “value chains” has become a priority for citizens and government alike, whose 100 billion euro recovery plan is largely devoted to industry. It is not so much a matter of relocating as of ensuring that new productions will take place in France or in Europe.
“As much among the Americans, this crisis has shown a failure of their social model, as much for us it has shown a failure of our model of innovation”, explains economist Philippe Aghion, recalling that the European Union has invested three times less in the search for a vaccine than the United States. This disciple of Joseph Schumpeter pleads for a capitalism combining innovation and protection.
The crisis has indeed restored a central place to States, and rehabilitated “the role of public action” in the face of the most liberal current of the economy, underlines Esther Duflo.
4 New ways of working
The demand for teleworking “is the real revelation of the health crisis and citizens’ demands post-covid 19”, underline the authors of the Sciences Po survey. Remote work and videoconferencing allow a “new balance between private and professional life “, But also to limit travel, illustrating the” search for a new sobriety “.
After months of compulsory teleworking, a CSA survey published in early February shows that the number of days teleworked per employee has more than doubled, reaching 3.6 days per week at the end of 2020.
Another strong expectation is better recognition of front-line and second-line workers – caregivers, delivery men, cashiers, garbage collectors – whose social utility is often inversely proportional to salary. Exceptional bonuses, increase of 183 euros for staff in hospitals and retirement homes: some concrete commitments have already been made. A mission, launched in November by the Ministry of Labor, is also looking at the valuation and remuneration of these workers.
The lines are moving everywhere. According to one UK Supreme Court ruling Friday, which could set a precedent for the entire “gig economy” (the economy of odd jobs), Uber drivers should benefit from a minimum wage and paid vacation.
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