In a world first, France further solidified its plans to become carbon neutral when President Emmanuel Macron presented a bill to the French cabinet calling for a total ban on the production of fossil fuels. The draft bill, presented last Wednesday, states that all oil and gas production should be phased out by 2040 in the country and its overseas territories. Macron hopes to have it passed by the end of 2017, in which case France will become the first country in the world to do so.
“The law will halt the exploitation of hydrocarbons in our territory; existing concessions cannot be renewed beyond 2040,” states the bill draft.
If the bill is passed, the government would no longer issue exploration permits for gas and oil. Any current allowances would be phased out in the 22 years between now and the 2040 goal, to coincide with France’s plans to end the sae of gasoline and diesel vehicles. Furthermore, while fracking is already illegal in France, the new bill will prohibit all other methods of hydrocarbon extraction, both current and proposed.
President Emmanuel Macron (right) with Ecology minister Nicolas Hulot.
The new legislation is a sign of France’s commitment to becoming a global leader in sustainable energy, following the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. France, whose dependance on fossil fuels is already very low, is in an ideal situation to pass the ban and provide an example for the rest of the world. Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot said the decision will convince other nations to follow.
Producing roughly six million barrels of hydrocarbons per year, France ranks at 71st in the world on a list that is topped by nations like the United States, Russia and Canada. Russia, for comparison, produces 10.5 million barrels per day.
The bill, if passed, could be seen as largely symbolic. This is because France’s current oil production represents a mere 1 per cent of its total consumption.
Greenpeace France said in a statement that the new bill bill sets a “good goal” but doesn’t go far enough. The environmental organization calls attention to the extension of an offshore exploration permit in French Guiana, which will be maintained. Minister Hulot explained that existing permits “will be maintained to avoid legal conflicts.”
Regardless, the dramatic move by president Macron is just one of many recent measures taken that are in line with his commitment to a greener future. The EU nation also plans to stop generating electricity from coal by 2022, and reduce their reliance on nuclear power from 75 per cent to 50 per cent by 2025. In July this year, the French Government even passed a law that bans supermarkets from purposefully wasting food. France is evidently working hard to lead other nations down a more sustainable path.
Symbolic or otherwise, this landmark move by the nation would mark a historical turning point in the fight for a greener future. Bravo, France.