France proposes ban on oil and gas exploration

The move is largely symbolic, but part of a move away from fossil fuels by the Macron administration.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Updated Sept. 6, 2017 at 9:18 AM
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Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The French government said it was reviewing a bill that would put an end to new permits for oil and gas exploration in an effort to adopt a low-carbon economy.

Nicolas Hulot, the state minister for the environment, introduced a measure Wednesday that would end exploration and conventional and non-conventional resources like shale oil and natural gas. The measure would phase out oil and gas operations by 2040.

"With this bill, France assumes its role as a leader in the fight against climate change and encourages other countries to join it in its commitment, in the continuity of the Paris Agreement," said Nicolas Hulot at the end of the Council of Ministers.

If passed, France would be the first country to enact a ban on oil and gas operations.

The British and French governments both said they'd work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from their roads beginning in 2040. Outside the automotive industry, the move to alternative vehicles has prompted changes for energy companies.

Australian energy and mining company BHP Billiton said it was investing tens of millions of dollars on a nickel sulphate operation to get on the EV bandwagon. Identified once as a non-core asset, the company said it was shifting gears toward the production of sulphates in a multi-million dollar overhaul.

France has one of the least carbonized electricity sectors among members of the European Union. Most of its renewable power comes from hydroelectric resources.

French President Emmanuel Macron is a staunch supporter of a push for a low-carbon economy. As a candidate this year, he said the European doors were open to U.S. scientists as U.S. President Donald Trump moved his country closer to the fossil fuels industry and away from some of the trends embraced by his European counterparts on climate change.

The ban on exploration and production is largely symbolic. France relies heavily on imports to satisfy its energy demands as it has very few domestic oil and natural gas production options of its own.

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