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Gaël Giraud, the fight of a theologian for the green economy

He has become the itchy hair of the French head of state and his ministers. Not a week goes by without Gaël Giraud hurling virulent criticism at Macron’s neoliberalism. On his Twitter account, the economist pinpoints government policy: “The contribution of public spending to GDP is 21% in France and not 56% as repeated by Bruno Le Maire and Emmanuel Macron”, “the rise in rates is a very bad idea. Price controls would be much more effective”. He comments extensively on interviews with the Governor of the Banque de France, François Villeroy de Galhau, “a central banker who has failed in his mission for 10 years (inflation at 2%)”. Tweeting in French as well as in English and Italian, he denounces security cooperation with countries like Egypt and tackles Elisabeth Borne for the lack of a concrete government project in terms of ecology. Posts on social networks that are scrutinized by decision-makers, politicians, big bosses, academics and community activists.

According to the professor at the Collège de France Alain Supiot, who prefaced his interview book The future economy (Editions Les liens qui liberating, 2021) with the Senegalese intellectual Felwine Sarr, the two men “are part of the great tradition of political economy which, from Adam Smith to Amartya Sen, via Marx, Weber, Veblen , Polanyi and Keynes, never believed that the creation and distribution of wealth obeyed universal and timeless laws of the type of physics, but on the contrary considered the economy as inextricably linked to questions of politics, morality, history, geography, law and religion”.

Dual education. The son of committed and practicing sixty-eight parents, Gaël Giraud has a dual Catholic and left-wing upbringing. But as a teenager, he broke with the ecclesial institution, disappointed that sections of the Church were not more to the left. He reconnects with her at the end of the preparatory classes by leaving for two months in Switzerland with an uncle, professor of theology and chaplain of the Swiss Alpine hunters. “He takes me to discuss philosophy and theology on glaciers at 4000 meters altitude, testified the economist in Tags, the journal of the Center Pompidou in Paris. I finally had someone who could answer my questions! He defused the objections of the Parisian, enlightened and anticlerical elite to which I belonged and at the same time, he made me understand that the main thing is not in the head, but comes from an existential experience. When I came down from the mountain, I was back. »

In 2004, he entered the Jesuits, trained before being ordained a priest, nine later. In 2020, he defended a doctoral thesis in theology at the Center Sèvres in Paris on the theme of the political theology of the commons in the Anthropocene era, under the supervision of Father Christoph Theobald.

Beyond reflection, the priest lives his faith above all in active mission. “It is our way of participating in the coming of the kingdom of God in our society”, assures the one who puts himself at the disposal of the Jesuit Pope Francis, whom he met. His positions, his thirst for transmission to young people, especially in terms of ecological transition, are a way of accomplishing his priesthood.

Southern countries. Normalien, doctor in mathematics, Gaël Giraud carried out numerous researches, among others at the CNRS. Chief economist of the French Development Agency from 2015 to 2019, he made his teams work on “global common goods”, a concept taken up by Emmanuel Macron in his multilateralist plea at the UN forum. He also led the team that developed a new macroeconomic model, dubbed General Monetary and Multisectoral Macrodynamics for the Ecological Shift (Gems), incorporating resource scarcity and climate change. This tool sheds light on public action in the countries of the South: employment and unemployment, inequalities, energy transition, public and private debt, and impact on growth.

Suffering from the AFD, too close to the interests of power, he joined the Jesuit University of Georgetown in 2020 where he directs the environmental justice program. Those who are invited to the table of the greats of this world regularly need to come face to face with reality. During his career, Gaël Giraud worked as a caregiver in a geriatrics unit in Nancy, taught in Chad, where he founded the center for street children in Balimba, and recently returned to a center refugees in Rome during the pandemic.

Although having joined an American university, this friend of Delphine Batho and close to Arnaud Montebourg, is never far from French politics. He participates in the summer days of ecologists, made proposals during the popular primary, called for Mélenchon to vote and dialogued with young Nupes candidates before the last legislative elections.

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