In their latest attempt to push out the petroleum age, France is looking into banning all oil and gas exploration and production by 2040, according to a draft bill presented at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
If it gets the go-ahead, they will be the first country to make such a move. Under the bill, France would no longer issue exploration permits, in both their mainland and overseas territories, and current permits would be gradually phased out by 2040. It would also give the government the power to turn down more than 40 exploration requests already made, according to the New York Times.
In short, this means France will cut its biggest ties to fossil fuels within the next 23 years. All being well, the bill could be passed by the end of 2017.
“An act to prohibit hydrocarbon licenses. Determined in the face of climate change when disasters strike us hard,” tweeted Nicolas Hulot, France’s ecology minister, speaking in regards to Hurricane Irma, which is currently causing havoc in French territories in the Caribbean.
One of the seven "supermajor" oil companies in the world is the French-owned company Total. It isn’t yet known how the bill will affect this multi-billion fossil fuel giant, however it isn’t likely to be good news for their oil division.
While France is undoubtedly getting serious about their transition to renewable energy, this is a largely symbolic move.
“A France without oil? A strong symbol, even if it is 1% of our consumption,” tweeted Jean-François Julliard, director of Greenpeace France. “For the climate, we will have to go even further.”
The French currently import most of their oil. Their current production covers just 1 percent of its demand, around 6 million barrels worth, meaning much of their oil is imported. Indeed, that means they will still import and refine considerable amounts of oil for the foreseeable future.
That said, France has been passing other environmental laws over the past year. Earlier this summer, the new government of President Emmanuel Macron passed a bill to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. Last year, the Republic also stated they will shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2023. On top of all that, Macron has pledged to make France “carbon-neutral” by 2050.