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Jean-Marc Jancovici: “Our Global Energy Predicament”

August 17, 2023

(Conversation recorded on July 11th, 2023)

Show Summary

On this episode, Nate is joined by well-known French educator Jean-Marc Jancovici to discuss the critical importance of energy to modern economies. Together, Nate and Jean-Marc break down the fundamentals of our complex, growth dependent global economic system. How much of the stereotypical Western lifestyle is centered around access to cheap, surplus fossil energy? What would it mean for societies to lose this stable, cheap and abundant supply – and how would the people who have become used to it react? Will a shift in society’s institutions and expectations need to be forced upon us in a time of urgent change or is it possible for nations and societies to anticipate declining energy availability – to actively simplify before we are forced to by circumstances?

About Jean-Marc Jancovici

Jean-Marc Jancovici is a founding partner of Carbone 4, a Paris based consultancy and data provider specializing in low carbon transition, biodiversity impacts, and physical risks of climate change ( He is the founder and president of The Shift Project, a Paris based think tank advocating for a low carbon economy ( Jean-Marc Jancovici is also an associate professor at Mines ParisTech, member of the French High Council for the Climate, and (co-)author of 8 books and the website on energy and climate change issues. Jean-Marc Jancovici is a graduate from École polytechnique and Télécom ParisTech.

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Show Notes & Links to Learn More

00:00 – Jean-Marc Jancovici Info + Works, Carbone 4, The Shift Project

02:33 – Fossil Fuels are responsible for modern prosperity

03:36 – Global life expectancy at birth went from ~30 to ~65

04:23 – Shift to industrial and then tertiary jobs

04:43 – Energy per capita is correlated with urbanization

05:30 – Greenhouse EffectJoseph Fourier

05:58 – Climate Drift

06:38 – Average laptop uses 40-60 metals to create

15:32 – Net zero, Decoupling

16:06 – World energy consumption against GDP it is nearly a 1:1 match

19:12 – Illusion of decoupling via trade

20:15 – Access to energy has increased over the last few hundred years

24:32 – There is no elasticity for essential resources

26:46 – Reiner Kūmmel

26:55 – Solow Residual

27:21 – Quantitative Easing adding false wealth

31:39 – Between 2010-2018 shale operators didn’t earn anything

33:01 – There’s nothing left after shale oil

33:24 – The European Union Can Expect to Suffer Oil Depletion by 2030 – A Prudential Prospective Analysis | Shift Project

37:27 – Climate Tipping Points

37:40 – Principle Collapse of the Western Atlantic Ice Sheet

38:01 – Complete melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet

38:15 – Amazon Rainforest possible to turn into a Savanna

41:09 – Retirement under the Royal Navy

43:12 – Barrel of oil worth 5 years of human labor (Section 4.3)

45:47 – Tainter, Complexification

46:06 – 100 years ago, the world only relied on 9 metals – today, there isn’t a single element on the periodic table that doesn’t have an industrial application

46:39 – The digital system requires 16-17 metals

47:22 – French Protests

47:33 – Russia/Ukraine situation effect on energy in Europe

53:45 – The US still has plenty of resources

56:23 – Shift Project – Plan to Transform the French Economy

58:06 – The World Without End

59:27 – Collapsologie

59:32 – Macron

1:03:29 – Online videos of Jancovici’s course

1:11:35 – ~50% of French people used to support nuclear energy, now it’s ~75%also in the rest of Europe

1:18:42 – We don’t like to pull ourselves out of a group in order to take actions – collective action is critical

1:19:46 – The Shifters

1:23:28 – Loss Aversion

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: economic growth paradigm, fossil fuel dependence