Starting this fall, France will cease granting licenses for new exploration operations to find oil and gas deposits, as part of a commitment to alternative renewable energy sources.
The transition is being driven by French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, with Nicolas Hulot, the “ecological transition” minister overseeing the transition.
“There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons,” said Hulot.
Hulot gained fame in the country for his environmental activism, and he has put forward many proposals to increase taxes on diesel and to push forward efforts to curb emissions and pollution.
President Macron had opposed exploration for natural gas so strongly that he was seeking a ban on fracking during the course of his election campaign, particularly in areas like French Guiana. However, Hulot cautioned Macron that such a ban would incur lawsuits from various energy companies, and counseled for a more gradual transition.
According to Hulot, around 75% of France’s electricity is being provided by nuclear power stations at the moment. France’s nuclear power industry currently employs around 200,000 people. Last year a law was passed to cut the proportion of energy generated by nuclear power to 50% by 2025, which sparked some controversy due to loss of jobs. President Macron renewed his commitment to the last month, however, he has not given concrete dates for the goal of having France being completely powered by renewable energy sources.
President Macron also has plans for a massive renovation program, intended to upgrade French homes to be more energy-efficient and reduce emissions. It is hoped that the program will also create jobs and reduce poverty.
Macron and Hulot sat down to discuss the topic of renewable energy plans and global climate change with former actor and Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, who visited France on Friday. Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying that he was honored to speak with Macron and his ministers about “how we can work together for a clean energy future”. Schwarzenegger was later photographed alongside Hulot holding a T-shirt which read “Make Our Planet Great Again”, a clear jab at Donald Trump and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.
— Nicolas Hulot (@N_Hulot) June 23, 2017
France condemned the US’ decision to pull out of the climate accord, and even posted an annotated version of a White House video which refuted Trump’s claims about the accord being bad for the US.