France pledges to phase out all oil and gas production by 2040

According to a draft bill presented today, the French government aims to pass legislation this year to phase out all oil and gas production by 2040 and make the country entirely carbon neutral by 2050.

The draft bill proposes that oil and gas exploration and production will be completely phased out in France and all its overseas territories, making it the first large country to become entirely carbon neutral.

Currently, only Vatican City and Bhutan have achieved carbon neutrality, although seven other countries, including Sweden and Norway, have pledged carbon neutrality. In 2007, the UN pledged to work towards climate neutrality, under the leadership of former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Now, French President Emmanuel Macron has set out his aim to reduce the country’s considerable carbon footprint by phasing out fossil fuels and leaving remaining resources buried in the ground.

The policy could affect companies such as Total, the French gas and oil company which ranks among the “supermajor” oil companies, which has permits to explore for hydrocarbons in overseas territories, such as in French Guiana.

The draft legislation states that the French government would no longer issue exploration permits and current concessions would be phased out entirely by 2040. However, France will continue to import and refine oil.

“The law will halt the exploitation of hydrocarbons in our territory: existing concussions cannot be renewed beyond 2040,” the bill states.

According to Nicolas Hulot, the French ecology minister, the draft bill demonstrates France’s commitment to climate change goals and hopes that it may convince other countries to follow.

Following US President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Agreement - which had resolved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to severely limit catastrophic global temperature rises - other world leaders, including President Macron, have restated their commitment to the agreement.

Currently, France has the greatest share of nuclear power in the world, with nuclear accounting for more than 70 per cent of its total production. Renewables are on the rise in the country, currently making up 18 per cent of total production. Just six million barrels of hydrocarbons are produced per year (one per cent).

The French government – like the UK government – is also aiming to put an end to the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, switching gradually to electric vehicles, by 2040.

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