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Policy brief: Have we lost our bearings?

By Claire Roumet on 1 February 2017

The beginning of the year is traditionally a time for wishes; an opportunity to set a course for the next twelve months, to draw up a list of resolutions and to step back a little, put things in perspective and make sense of the hectic, daily rush of activity.

Well, expect none of these in this editorial, which will remain questioning, thereby perhaps encouraging answers to emerge collectively.

“Postfaktisch” was named word of the year 2016 by the German media. This implies we have entered an era where facts are of little importance and where debate is no longer based on reality. It would explain the election of Donald Trump and his radical/logic-defying positions on a number of issues. “Post-reality” also acknowledges the fact that we are not just rational beings (emotions are crucial) and that reality alone does not give meaning to a political project (meaning is essential to us). Figures and indicators alone justifying policies are a thing of the past.

Too bad! It is just when renewable energy is becoming a rational and economically profitable investment, when energy transition is offering a real social project able to create shared wealth without irremediably destroying resources, when this transition is better understood and hits the front pages that the driving-forces behind collective choices are turning their backs on facts.

Although the energy transition has solid arguments and offers better disseminated solutions, as shown in the film “Tomorrow”, and despite the fact that viable economic models for developing a new energy system exist, we nonetheless need to (re)invent dreams, common projects and tell people stories to avoid leaving this field open for other, backward-looking projects.

An exciting challenge indeed and, all things considered, an excellent year 2017

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