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Frequently Asked Questions
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We have done our best to provide detailed and, we hope, satisfactory answers to questions you might have about The Shift Project (TSP). Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information to complete what is written below.
What is our legal structure?
Our Association was created on 31 March 2009 and registered with the Paris Prefecture on 05 January 2010, under number W751203033, according to the French Law of 1901. TSP was given public interest status in 2010 and is authorised to issue tax receipts. We are a not-for-profit association.
The transition to a low-carbon society is one of the main challenges facing humanity today. TSP’s goal is to reflect on transition measures that work for the public interest. We do not sell services, and this is one of the major differences between ourselves and a consultancy firm.
How is the Shift managed?
As with most associations, the Shift is managed by a Bureau and a Board of Administrators (BA). At the day-to-day level it is managed by our director, Cédric Ringenbach, and his team.
The Bureau is composed of a Chairperson, Jean-Marc Jancovici, a Deputy Chairperson, Geneviève Ferone, and a Treasurer, Michel Lepetit.
The Board of Administrators is composed of the Bureau and representatives of partner members and benefactors.
The Administrators on the Board are elected from among the financing members at the General Meeting. They play a vital role by representing the association in civil matters. The Board, usually at the Chairperson’s request, decides upon the operational activities of TSP and when necessary, sets out the main operating principles for the Association, the core components of which are governed by the statutes. It also ensures that they are fully implemented. The decisions of the Board are made by simple majority; each Administrator has a single vote. In the case of an equal split, the vote of the Chairperson carries the most weight.
A General Meeting is convened once a year by the Chairperson and is attended by all members of the association.
Who can be a member?
In theory, anybody. However, under the terms of the statutes, all applications must be submitted to the Bureau of the Board of Administrators. The latter reserves the right to reject membership to someone who does not share our approach. An example of this rejection would be for an arms dealer or a tobacco company.
Our operating system is “communist” in nature: to each according to their means. It makes sense to ask for more financial aid from larger companies than from smaller ones, or from individuals, and it is therefore the former who finance our operations in the main.
The duties of Administrators and Bureau Members are non-remunerated. This applies in particular to the Chairperson who offers his or her services free of charge.
For further details on our members, click on the link to our statutes (in French).
Who finances us?
In the main our resources are provided by our members, who finance us for specific projects. However, we also plan to conduct operational research-related activities. We hope in the future to be able to seek other financing options, allocated to specific projects. We are halfway between a think tank financed by private funds (looking for answers to unresolved issues), and a lobbying organisation (trying to further a cause), as we strive to make concrete proposals to decarbonise the economy.
Go to the corresponding page to see who TSP’s members are.
Our accounts were signed off by an Auditor for the financial year 2010. The auditor’s report may be viewed here.
What do you get from membership?
Apart from feeling like a superhero... you will :
• be associated with operational activities on preferential terms (see below for the powerful influence this gives you). Because of this, members don’t have the potential right to send employees to work groups, but the possibility exists if it furthers the critical reflection process. The most obvious case is the expertise provided by member companies or learning establishments.
• participate in TSP sessions, as well as the Board of Administrators and General Assembly meetings. These are not the most exciting Shift meetings, but members have their say on strategic decisions concerning TSP governance and have voting rights for the Board of Administrators.
• be asked to participate in events organised by TSP and assist in their organisation both logistically (premises, equipment, services), and for content and communication (speakers, expertise, etc.).
Just as with a think tank, members who finance the Shift have the right to monitor the choice of subjects. In a think tank, the financiers – whether public or private – provide their input on resource allocation, but, fortunately, this does not entitle them to censor any research results. When they join the Shift, all of our members are entitled to provide an opinion on the direction of our work, but they all pledge not to intervene in what we do.
What role does the Scientific Council have in our work?
The Scientific Council (SC) is composed of experts in the field of energy, climate sciences, economics and human sciences. The number of members and its composition are not fixed.
The role of the Scientific Committee is first and foremost to assist us in our work with subject matters in accordance with the very latest scientific and technical knowledge, particularly on energy and climate. The Council guides us on sources to use, and is of course given complete freedom to provide an opinion or a critique on the operational issues dealt with by TSP, and on the creation of work groups.
On the other hand, it is not the role of the Scientific Council to “rubber stamp” the proposals that we submit for debate. Members are therefore in no way bound by the operational conclusions provided by The Shift Project. They remain completely free to make their own assessments of our work and may express these publicly. Each member attends in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the institution(s) to which he or she belongs. There is no compensation for meeting attendance.
In addition to their direct contribution to production quality, the existence of this Council provides an additional safeguard against any external or internal pressures that could result in established facts being ignored, distorted or misrepresented. Additional security is provided by the fact that the funds made available to us will be used in accordance with the objectives set out in the statutes.
What makes us different from a think tank?
As stated previously, there are strong similarities in terms of our operating methods and financing. We work on specific subjects, on the basis of the financial means placed at our disposal, and we present the results of our research in a transparent manner.
What sets us apart is our position in public debate. Our aim is to offer operational solutions for transitions to a decarbonised economy while ensuring public debate on the issue. More than a mere think tank, we want to be an “action-tank” and a force providing concrete proposals.
Why do we work with large companies, which are, as we all know, terrible, incorrigible polluters?
When attempting to “change opinion” on the collective choices taken by a nation (not just in terms of the environment, since the same scenario applies in economics or politics), there are two ways of looking at things:
• The first consists in thinking that he who has already sinned once – and profited from it – must irrevocably be ruled out of any thinking about the “right” way of doing things in the future. To put it another way, he who has sinned can no longer be relied upon to do good. That would mean, in this case, that anyone who has used fossil fuels, and profited from this use to make substantial profits, should no longer have any input into the search for a decarbonisation solution. However this risks leaving oneself with very few interlocutors!
• The second consists in taking the view that since the collective is composed of individuals – or actors – who have all sinned at least once (used petrol, gas or coal at least once), what we should have in mind is more akin to redemption – or conversion – than to the irrevocable exclusion of sinners, at least if we want a transition that occurs without violent conflict.
At TSP, we do not agree with this first option. Other organisations have gone this route (a necessary one since we need bio-diversity in our actions). For our part, we would like to explore the latter route, as we are convinced – on the basis of a number of fairly probative historical precedents – that there is no other way of achieving a swift and non-violent transition. This is TSP’s strategic position: to dialogue with large companies on the subjects of climate and energy, in the hope of leading them to the conclusion that the transition is also the best option for them, and that they should adopt this way of thinking.
Tocqueville wrote, 150 years ago, that within a democracy, no significant change will take place unless major economic interests act in support of the desired change, and history has often proven him right. TSP wants to use the lessons of the past rather than ignore them!
Moreover, we need means in order to live. If we wish to conduct operational research on decarbonisation of the economy, where are we to find such means? Not easily within the research grants already distributed by a number of institutions (Europe, French National Research Agency), etc. Obtaining these requires lengthy procedures which tend to favour large, established institutions, and – quite surprisingly – a certain degree of conformity. Very often you need to set out in great detail what you intend to do, whereas basically we don’t have any idea yet! The subscriptions of our members are more like a contract of trust, with strict requirements in terms of process but greater leniency in terms of the precise detailing of future output.
We are in a race against the clock. Faced with on-the-ground reality, and using a process of elimination, we realize that the only source that can be rapidly mobilised with a light-touch organisation is corporate sponsorship. Following this line of thought, we need to target those who think they may rank among the winners in the game.
What about the risk of becoming a handmaiden?
Any initiative has risks associated with it. Clearly, our relationship with our financiers may at times seem far from equal. But for the reasons given above, we have resolved to give it a try, taking every possible precaution to limit the negative consequences. We hope that the quality and transparency of our work will be the hallmark of our independence.
Now is the time to react and unite all climate and energy players!