Of Hydrogen, SMRs, and Renewables to combat the Climate Emergency — the lethal “cathedrals” fallacy

Dr Louis Arnoux
42 min readDec 27, 2021

Presently there is not a single instance of any strategy, policy, plan, “Green New Deal”, ESG investment, by whatever name, that can effectively and successfully address the Climate Emergency and other ecological, social and financial threats. This essay uses the recently announced France 2030 Investment Plan to demonstrate why and outlines what alternative possibly could succeed.

On 12 October 2021, French President Macron presented his France 2030 €30 Billion Investment Plan in a two-hour, one-man stand-up, grand show. The aim: to ensure that France becomes “a great innovative nation”, again. We have heard this kind of thing somewhere else in recent years; to disastrous effect. This event is turning out as archetypal of the state of decision-making worldwide — a state characterised by a profound ignorance on the part of hierarchical elites in government and business alike about the actual threats our world faces, about what can’t possibly work to meet those challenges, and about what it would take to successfully meet them.

President Macron’s revealing “non-renewables” Freudian slips

Nearly 50% of the funds announced by the President are to be directed to “decarbonising” the country. As part of his presentation the President focused on the development and promotion of Small Modular (nuclear) Reactors (SMRs) and so-called “renewables” technologies, ever more photovoltaics and wind turbines, on and off shores. To the non-specialist this may all seem fine. Maybe is there finally a determination to get France to at least erase its substantial lag on the “renewables” front. Except that five times he called the latter “non-renewable technologies”! He did so while keeping a straight face, without batting an eyelid, apparently totally unaware of what he was talking about.

To clarify the repeated slips, in French “renewable energies” are called “Energies Nouvelles Renouvelables” (ENRs), that is, new renewable energies. He apparently has not yet realised that the N in ENR is for nouvelle, new, and apparently no one has yet told him… He has been in power for over 4 years.

Here are the slips:

Dr Louis Arnoux

Louis is the catalyst and main author for the Fourth Transition Initiative and Cool Planet Foundation.