Scientific Watch N°1 - From 04/27/2015 to 05/08/2015

Please find every two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding general news and scientific activities in France. [2015-N°01 du 27/04/2015 au 08/05/2015]

From 04/27/2015 au 05/08/2015

Editors :

Julie METTA, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Justin MONIER, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Sébastien TREMOLET, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Isabelle SAVES, Attachée for Scientific & Academic Affairs - Hong Kong

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- EU threatens France with court action over air pollution.


Pollution in Paris. Photo taken by Patrick Kovarik, AFP on March 2014.

France has just two months to act over dangerously high levels of air pollution or face being hauled in front of the European Court of Justice, the European Commission said Wednesday. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said in a statement published on its website that France has failed to comply with European rules requiring member states to limit citizens’ exposure to fine dust particles, known as PM10 particles. These small particles, typically produced by vehicles, heating and heavy industry, can cause a variety of health problems including asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer. The warning comes after authorities in Paris were last month forced to ban half of all traffic amid a spike in pollution which briefly made the French capital the most polluted city in the world, ahead of regular offenders such as Delhi and Beijing.

France 24 website, April 20 Avril 2015 - Source

1.2- 1% of tree species stores half the carbon of the Amazon.

Of the 16 000 species of trees that inhabit the Amazon rainforest, just under 200 (nearly 1%) contributes to half of the growth and carbon storage of all trees. This is what reveal RAINFOR work coordinated by a network of Latin American and European researchers including INRA, CNRS, CIRAD and published online this week in the Nature website magazine. The discovery could help scientists predict the behavior of tropical rain forests in the context of climate change. Indeed, the Amazon rainforest plays a role in atmospheric carbon regulation, helping to limit the impact of global warming. Scientist analysed data from more than 500 plots distributed throughout the Amazon territory, a total of 200,000 trees of 3,600 species.

CNRS Website, April 28 2015 Source

1.3- French ambassador urges Australia to join climate change battle.

France’s ambassador has called on Australia to join the effort to avoid dangerous climate change, saying his country’s leaders had repeatedly raised the issue with the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Christophe Lecourtier said he was optimistic Australia would make a positive contribution before December’s talks in Paris on emissions reduction goals beyond 2020. The UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, also speaking at a Carbon Market Institute summit in Melbourne, said she was “counting on Australian leadership” at the Paris talks, but it still had “homework” to do. Australia’s target is a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020, based on 2000 levels. The level of Australia’s ambition has been questioned at home and abroad. Countries including China and Brazil have queried how the Coalition’s Direct Action policy will achieve the 5% reduction, and the Climate Change Authority has recommended Australia’s “inadequate” target be raised to a 19% cut, with a 30% reduction in emissions by 2025.

The Guardian website - May 05 2015 Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- Endocrine disruptors, price for apathy in Europe ?

Endocrine disruptors may cause many diseases and, apart from a few exceptions, the European Commission drags to regulate their use. Eighteen researchers mostly from France decided to calculate the economic cost of these poisons for Europe and came to a staggering 157 billion euros a year (1 360 billion HKD a year) equivalent to 1,23 GDP of Europe.

Many of theses compounds are everyday chemicals and may interfere with the action of our hormones, and so harmful to our health. They can, for example, reduce fertility, cause obesity, trigger precocious puberty or lower the IQ.

The resulting annual cost is estimated to between 3.3 and 244 billion yearly. The figure of 157 billion euros is the midpoint of this range. But the researchers believe, on the basis of their simulations that there was a 75% chance for the cost to be higher than 96.1 billion euros.

CNRS Website, April 30 2015 - Source

2.2- Edible Insects : a promising industry in Europe ?

Edible insects are more and more considered as an alternative source of protein for a human population expected to reach 2 billion by 2050. They could be a solution to feed cattle and men in the future. Samir Mezdour, project coordinator of “Desirable” project (European research project on the ento-refinery tomorrow) and the team of Frédéric Marion-Poll are studying feeding insects and how to transform them into high-value ingredients to feed the animals livestock. They work lead to establish insect die at an industrial scale, is currently made with companies such as the French start-up Ynsect, winner of phase 2 of the Global Innovation Competition (MIC) in 2030.

CRNS website, May 01 2015 - Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- Three Minute Thesis : National Finals.

Making an audience of as many non-specialists from different backgrounds as possible understand years of research in just three minutes is the challenge set by the CNRS (The National Center for Scientific Research) and the “Conférence des Présidents d’Université” (University Presidents Conference) for PhD students. For “Ma these en 180 secondes”, every French university research consortium has answered the call for volunteers and their best candidates will come together on the 3rd June 2015 for the national finals in Nancy.

Need more information : Check here


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- Paris mayor plans more pedestrianisation along the Seine ?

Anne Hidalgo (Paris mayor) unveiled 70 milion HKD project to replace busy highway along right bank with gardens and grassy walkways from the Bastille to the Eiffel Tower


An artist’s impression of how the pedestrianised right bank of the Seine would look. Photograph : Luxigon

The mayor of Paris has fired another salvo in the war against motorists and choking pollution with a plan to turn the right bank of the River Seine into a pedestrian zone. The latest scheme to pedestrianise a highway along which 2,700 vehicles pass each hour at peak times, has been opposed by the group 40 Million Motorists, which has launched an online petition. Hidalgo has said that in the campaign to drive cars from the French capital’s streets a certain philosophy is required. “It’s an urban project, something almost philosophical, which involves envisaging the city in an alternative way than through the use of cars,” Hidalgo said, adding that “reconquering the banks of the Seine” would be one of the highlights of her administration. City Hall experts say the plan to reclaim the riverbanks from traffic would lead to an average drop of 15% in nitrogen dioxide levels as well as a reduction in noise pollution.

The Guardian website, May 06 2015 - Source

publié le 03/07/2015

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