France plans to pass legislation this year to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040, becoming the first country to do so.
President Emmanuel Macron wants to make France carbon neutral by 2050 and plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions by leaving fossil fuels, blamed for contributing to global warming, in the ground.
Under the draft presented to cabinet, France will no longer issue exploration permits. The extension of current concessions will be gradually limited until they are phased out by 2040 – when France plans to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
The decision is, however, largely symbolic because France produces only about 6 million barrels of hydrocarbons a year, representing about 1 percent of its consumption.
Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot said after the cabinet meeting that the decision shows France’s commitment to climate change goals and will enable it to convince others to follow. “The law will halt the exploitation of hydrocarbons in our territory; existing concessions cannot be renewed beyond 2040.”
No shale gas permit has been issued in France and it will be impossible to do so after the law is passed.