“France doesn’t have oil, but it has an idea.” … How the conflict returns to the 1973 oil crisis

“France doesn’t have oil, but it has an idea.” The slogan has now entered collective memory and has forgotten its origin. Fall 1975, Spring 1976, or even 1977? The dates are different. What is certain is that this ruling was taken from the most recent advertising spot of the Energy Conservation Agency (AEE) (an ancestor of the Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe)), which was launched at the end of 1974.

France was subsequently hit hard by the soaring oil prices that began in 1971, but in October 1973 the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to ban oil from western countries supporting Israel. It reached its climax in the next Middle East War.

Until the time change is introduced

In five months, the price of one barrel of oil has quadrupled (From $ 2.59 to $ 11.65). This is the first oil crisis. “This puts an end to 30 years of energy consumption and isn’t calming down. Economist Michelle Lupti, vice president of the shift project, recalls (also read Lemond’s column). This crisis has made it essential to use energy more intelligently. We talk about “energy saving” rather than talking about energy efficiency and drinking. This is the whole message of AEE Spot, and we promise that the agency will soon announce how to “use energy better without changing our lifestyle”.

In this respect, the energy conservation measures introduced in Western countries are drastic. In France, in the midst of a crisis, heating is limited to 20 ° C, television broadcasts stop at 11 pm, and store windows turn off at night …

Other measures will have a more lasting impact on French society. “The introduction of daylight savings time will limit household energy consumption,” said Benoit Léguet, economist and director of the Institute for Climate Economy (I4CE). This measure, envisioned by then-Minister of Finance Giscard d’Estaing in 1973, was implemented in September 1976. The oil crisis provided the state with additional discussion (fuel savings) to regulate highways (120 km / h) and national speeds. Road (90 km / h), after 15 years of experience and heated discussions. “At this time, even in France, the first heat regulation appeared in the building and adopted a nuclear program. Without this impact, there would not have been so many reactors,” said Thomas Pererin Carlin. increase. Jacques Delors Institute Energy Center.

Have you faced our unpleasant energy dependence again?

The only drawbacks are: “The perception that our energy depends on foreign countries and the need to manage this resource as much as possible ended with the counterattack of oil in the 1980s,” continues Michelle Lupti. Economists advocating the quest for wasted energy will experience long desert crossings until 2005.

Is history repeating today? In any case, the war-related energy crisis in Ukraine is “as fierce and brutal as the 1973 oil crisis,” Bruno Le Mer said. “On the issue of physical flow, we are not there yet just because the EU continues to acquire Russia’s oil and gas supply. Nuances Thomas Pererin Carlin. So, since last summer, energy prices have already risen, exacerbating the invasion of Ukraine, and the conflict may continue, even worsening Russia’s hydrocarbon ban in Europe »».

According to Michelle Rupti, the unlikely hypothesis is that “today we are heavily dependent on Russia for energy.” “On the other hand, as in 1973, we are again facing an unpleasant energy dependence on foreign countries,” he continues. It is no longer the Persian Gulf, but Russia. “And the shock is no longer just oil, but gas, the first in our history,” adds Thomas Pererin Carlin.

No oil, but an idea, a big comeback?

“We must be aware that we are in a new world,” launched Bruno Le Mer. March 7th on BFMTVEspecially by calling on the French to “strive” for their energy consumption, especially by reducing the heating of their homes once. This is a typical measure taken in 1973 and is not always popular on social networks today. “Still, changes in individual and group behavior are part of the answer. One of the few that has immediate effects is explained by Benoit Léguet. And if these efforts are perceived as ridiculous, It’s proof that it can be applied without a big sacrifice. Let’s do it. According to Ademe, one reduction in heating reduces energy consumption by an average of 7%. It’s nothing. “Savings today.” Only one centilitre of gas is an amount that doesn’t need to be purchased from Putin next winter, “Agrees Thomas Pererin Carlin.

It’s not just gas. On March 18, the International Energy Agency (IEA), also inherited from the first oil crisis **, plans 10 immediate steps to reduce oil consumption and lower prices. Announced. Often: slow down the highway at 10 km / h, introduce alternating traffic with carless Sundays in big cities, and use carpooling … again, this is reminiscent of 1973. increase. Today, we are ready to work individually and collectively, “says Thomas Pererin Carlin, who regrets having remained in France since the outbreak of the conflict, the logic of unlimited energy consumption. It will resume with. “Since March 31st, this practice will be banned, but we continued to gas the terraces of cafes and restaurants,” he explains.

Much more energy shocks expected?

Economists in particular regret that European public policy has been heavily directed towards fossil fuel subsidies since the soaring oil and gas prices long before the war in Ukraine. “In France, it’s an inflation allowance introduced at the end of last year. Or, most recently, a discount of 15 cents per liter of gasoline has been emphasized since April 1. You may need to take such measures, but that’s it. Only if targeting the most vulnerable households. Otherwise, they are terribly unfair and the wealthiest have the most frequent and most consumed cars. They also have price signals. Mute, but nevertheless, it should make us all aware that there is a problem and it’s time to review our behavior.

Benoit Léguet recognizes that finding the right mechanism is not easy. “But this is one of the things to expect,” he claims. By 2050 and the achievement of carbon neutrality, we are still very likely to experience an energy shock. You should already have pre-prepared goal-setting aids. This is probably at least one positive point drawn from this war in Ukraine. It’s a matter of drinking, returning to the center of the debate to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. It’s the same as having a lot of trouble pushing itself until then when we were asked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is an important part of the equation, and Benoit Regge and Thomas Pererin Carlin agree to say: »»

The director of I4CE mentions a course set up at the 2007 Grenelle de l’Environnement to renovate 400,000 homes annually since 2013. remember. If we had done everything to reach it, we would have been better prepared to deal with the current energy crisis. »»