In conversation with Quentin Jossen

  • October 6, 2020

CLIMACT is a consultancy that helps organisations and governments to reduce their impact on the climate while keeping a sustainable carbon-free society by 2050 in mind. BE-REEL! talked to Quentin Jossen, an engineer at CLIMACT and one of the founders of the Walloon long-term renovation strategy (LTRS)

jossenQuentin Jossen has been a Senior Consultant at CLIMACT for 5 years. After his master studies in electrical engineering at the Université Libre Bruxelles (ULB), he was a teaching assistant for 4 years. He worked at Restore as a quantitative analyst, then looked for a job in which he could have more impact and collaborate more with people. He eventually found this at CLIMACT. Quentin is very interested in other cultures and likes to explore the world by bicycle. He is a drummer and also plays sports in his spare time.

Which projects are you working on?

“In short, my current position is to advise authorities and act as a market facilitator and innovator. For the advice part, I recently updated the LTRS for both Flanders and Wallonia. I support the Flemish Energy Agency (VEA) in monitoring the socio-economic impact of BE-REEL! For other authorities I am currently working on various studies. ”

As a market facilitator I mainly try to fill in gaps. I look at what is blocking the market and with which structural solutions I can speed up the project. On the one hand, I am working on a local renovation platform in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve in collaboration with the local authorities. I try to help citizens to facilitate their customer journey, support a reliable relationship between citizens and professionals, and provide financial and technical support. For the professionals this ensures interesting projects and visibility. On the other hand, I try to speed up the renovation of school buildings by mobilizing both schools and professionals through tenders. We need innovative solutions, so that is quite an investment for them. ”

CLIMACT

What is CLIMACT and how is it structured?

“CLIMACT is an organisation that stimulates governments and other organisations to act on climate change. We work in a team of 20 people, mainly engineers, economists and lawyers, who are divided into three services: strategic consulting, legal and regulatory assistance, and project development. We have in-house specialists for certain subjects who, supported by colleagues, take the lead in such projects. For buildings, for example, that's me. ”

Which concrete results / products has CLIMACT already produced?

“We have written reports for NGOs such as the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Then there are our calculators at both Belgian and European level that allow you to explore the impact of different scenarios for a low-carbon pathway in Belgium (or Europe) by 2050. This calculator includes all technological and behavioral levers with which you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You can then see the impact of your own trajectory via four ambition levels. And as already said, I am involved in the LTRS of Wallonia that I developed together with colleagues. For the Flemish LTRS this was together with the Flemish Energy Agency. ”

Create a price on carbon.

You also work together with BE-REEL! What exactly does that collaboration entail?

“On the one hand, we analyze the socio-economic impact of the BE REEL! campaigns and, on the other, the most important success factors for scaling up and replicating. Next, we also collect, structure and analyze data. The big advantage between our cooperation is mainly the interaction that arises. Not only in the regional renovation strategies, but also at the European level. We share our knowledge on best practices and the overarching European context, goals and agenda. BE REEL! strengthens our reflections at a higher level by informing us about Belgian best practices and field experience. ”

OPINION QUESTIONS

Imagine: as a policymaker you are allowed to change / draft 1 policy measure to help achieve your objectives. Which one do you choose and why do you choose it? (You can choose the policy level yourself)

“Then I will go for carbon pricing at a global level. We must make it clear to citizens that this is not just an extra cost, but rather a signal. Certain solutions incur external costs, which other alternative solutions do not generate. That can easily be included in the price. The ‘polluter pays’ principle can help finance alternative solutions. In Ireland there is an inspiring project example where the proceeds from carbon pricing are used to finance the renovation of the worst performing buildings. If you have a health problem and a doctor determines that this is due to the poor condition of your home, he will sign a document requiring the state to approve your renovation for that project.

Why not choose for suppliers that contribute to climate solutions?

For the construction sector in particular, I would introduce mandatory minimum requirements. The targets in the LTRS are now fixed at 2050, but what about the years in between? We need mandatory intermediate targets that impose a renovation rate. So that one can say, for example, by 2030, no home can have an F label. Now legislation is all too non-committal about it, in my opinion. ”

What do you think of the following statements? "The greatest potential to save CO2 lies in the energetic renovation of our building stock."

“Given the share of buildings in the CO2 landscape, actions in the renovation sector will definitely play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But what does potential actually mean? To be clear, we must dare to look beyond discussions of cost efficiency with too limited scope. Every euro you invest smartly in energetic renovation provides you with five euros in social benefits. I am thinking of health, jobs and the avoided impact of climate change. In contrast to other sectors, technological solutions for smart energy renovation already exist today, even if you want to innovate even more to reduce costs or increase quality. I think the barriers today are mainly political in nature. ”

"Fossil fuels must disappear."

“Every ton of CO2 means €1200 in costs for our grandchildren. With that in mind, the question we need to ask ourselves is: “Do we care about the next generations?” I would like to live with my daughters in a city with clean air and good living quality. With the current level of ambition to deliver concrete and ambitious actions, we are not going to stay below the 2°C warming rate, I think. But still, wouldn’t it be great if we could take advantage of the many short-term benefits of the measures required for a low-carbon society? ”

“As if I can solve the climate problem as an individual.”

“In fact, I think the solution starts with the individual. There are so many small actions, decisions actually, with which you can individually make a difference and which do not compromise your comfort, but do have an impact. Which bank do I put my savings into, for instance.. The money you put in your bank account is used to finance the projects of that bank. Banks such as NewB or Triodos invest your money in sustainable projects. Another one:  what kind of electricity do I buy? Same story. Whichever provider you choose, you will still have the same light, so why not choose suppliers that contribute to climate solutions?

These are all questions that an individual can ask himself. Of course you also need overarching measures to facilitate those individual actions, such as the right infrastructure and financial solutions and clear signals from policy makers.

Thanks for the conversation!

More information about CLIMACT on their website.

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