France becomes the first country to pass a law which bans any extraction of fossil fuels in all of its constituent territories by 2040. This includes fracking or any other form of extracting shale gas and fossil fuels.
Passed by the French National Assembly, this law also prohibits the awarding of any new permits to extract fossil fuels, while existing licenses of companies will not be able to renew past 2040. This means, oil production in France and all of its territories will finally come to an end.
This freshly legalized regime will make France the first nation within the European Union and the rest of the world to commit to an outright ban on oil gas and oil production.
Moreover, this newly passed law is in line with the goal of French President Emmanuel Macron to make France the leader in the switch to renewable energy. As a matter of fact, he has always been vocal about his ambitions to make France as the leading nation in the drive towards a sustainable use of energy following the opposing decision of the United States regarding the issue.
However, it is worth noting that France imports 99% of its fossil fuel requirements. Within the country and its territories, just over 800,000 tons of oil are produced a year. Saudi Arabia can extract the same amount of oil in just a few hours. These data mean that the bill will only make a small effect on the global scale since there is only a small portion of fossil fuels that are extracted across the country and in overseas territories. Because of this law, the fossil fuel exploration in Guyana, A territory of France in South America, will be directly affected.
Taking the data aside, the law is still a significant step in fighting against climate change. Delphine Batho, a socialist lawmaker, hoped that the outright ban would inspire nations with bigger oil productions to follow suit.
Since President Macron took his office mid-2017, he has committed his drive to shut down all coal power plants in France by 2023. He is even deciding to put an end to the sale of diesel cars and petrol by 2040. Moreover, France has also announced its intention to close up to 17 nuclear power plants by 2025. While these power plants provide the country with most of its zero-emissions electricity, the ultimate goal is to replace these sources with renewable ones and not pollution producers.
France, under the leadership of Macron, is also luring climate scientists of the United States with $70 million worth of grants, after nearly 2,000 American researchers applied for such grants. These researchers are said to have experienced the devaluing of science under the administration of Trump.
Shortly after the announcement of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, France has launched their version of President Trump’s slogan called, “Make Our Planet Great Again.” The campaign stresses the commitment of France in achieving climate and energy transition within its territory, as a nation within the European Union, and as a leading country at the international level.
Nicolas Hulot, the ecology minister of France, says the ban will ensure consistency between the laws and the climate commitments of the country under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. He further mentioned that to remain below the two-degree Celsius limit, the country must leave most of fossil fuel sources underground.
Similar to the statement of Delphine Batho, Hulot also mentioned that while the production of gas and oil is outweighed by the country’s consumption of imported energy sources, France remains to be the first country to take such measures that will hopefully have a contagion effect with the rest of the world.
However, such news is not taken lightly by environmental organizations in France. Apparently, there are signed contracts for gas and oil extraction by the French government that predate the ban. Canceling these obligations could have corresponding financial penalties. According to Juliette Renaud, a fossil fuel industry expert with Friends of the Earth, there are around 55 exploration licenses that may have been previously approved. These licenses will likely be extended.
Renaud further mentioned that 132 extraction permits are still awaiting approval. She argued that if the French territories and the rest of the world will continue to exploit conventional hydrocarbons, it may be difficult for the nation to help keep the global temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius.
At the moment, it is still too early to gauge the results of such law. However, it is worth noting that every little bit of action would be essential to inhibit the apparent dark future of the environment that we are starting to notice. Moreover, this symbolic ban may be a crucial step, especially that the United States has already committed itself to renew its dying coal industry.