France advances phase out of hydrocarbons production by 2040

French Minister of Ecological and Social Transition Nicolas Hulot on Wednesday (Sept. 6) presented a draft bill  to phase out oil and gas exploration and production on French territories by 2040.

The bill, presented to France’s Council of Ministers, is the first step to keep the campaign promises of Emmanuel Macron and was anticipated in the new government’s climate action plan (the “Plan Climat”) released in July.

In a video posted on Twitter, Hulot said the French government aims to send a “strong signal” to other countries for fulfilling the commitments taken under the Paris Agreement. Previously this summer, Macron announced that he will convene a summit on December 12 (day that marks the second anniversary of the adoption of the Paris deal) to take further action on climate, “notably on the financial front”.

According to Reuters, under the draft law France will not issue new exploration permits and will not renew existing concessions beyond 2040,  thus progressively halting the domestic production of fossil fuels in the same year of the expected ban on the sale of fossil fueled vehicles, another policy measure announced in the “Plan Climat”. The draft law also prohibits the production of unconventional hydrocarbons (shale gas), whatever method is used. Until now, only hydraulic fracturing techniques were banned.

The production of hydrocarbons in France amounts to some six million barrels per year and represents only 1 percent of national consumption, Le Monde reports. However, the draft bill could impact the exploration permits on French overseas territories rich in hydrocarbons (such as Guyana) and on the production sites currently active in the Metropolitan France.

The bill is due to be examined by the Parliament, where Macron’s party secured a strong majority in June elections. It is expected to be become law by the end of 2017, Hulot said.


(Image: Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening session of the Parliamentary Meeting of France, on the occasion of COP21, Paris, December 2015. Photo credit: United Nations Photo/Flickr)