France to ban all new oil and gas exploration in renewable energy drive, ‘Ecological transition’ minister says law will be passed later this year

Macron meets Schwarzenegger and vows to stop oil and gas licences, In a dig at Trump’s climate change inaction, French president welcomes the green campaigner and says there will be ‘no new exploration licences’
by James Murray for BusinessGreen, 26 June 2017, The Guardian

The new French government has sought to further burnish its green credentials with the announcement it is to stop granting licences for new oil and gas exploration.

In his first major intervention since Emmanuel Macron’s election victory, the ecological transition minister, Nicolas Hulot, told the broadcaster BFMTV there would be “no new exploration licences for hydrocarbons”.

Hulot said the government would extend Macron’s promised moratorium on fracking projects to cover all oil and gas exploration. He also hinted that the government would increase taxes on diesel and look to streamline decision-making on environmental issues so they could be made “faster”.

Hulot faces a daunting in-tray to deliver on Macron’s wide-ranging environmental manifesto, which promised a sharp increase in renewables’ investment, a huge renovation programme to improve the efficiency of French homes, and an acceleration of the deployment of zero-emission vehicles.

The comments came as Hulot and Macron met the former Californian governor and climate change campaigner Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss plans for a new global pact to give people a mechanism for securing environmental justice.

In a short video posted on Twitter, both Macron and Schwarzenegger aimed a swipe at President Trump as they vowed to work together to “make the planet great again”.

Macron said a new pact that builds on international human right legislation could help “move on to a new stage after the Paris accord”. The new pact could be presented to the UN as early as this September, Macron said.

The proposals were backed by the former French foreign minister and the chair of the Paris summit, Laurent Fabius. “We already have two international [human rights] pacts … The idea is to create a third, for a third generation of rights – environmental rights,” he said.

Schwarzenegger said support for the proposals should cross political lines. “It is absolutely imperative that we not make it a political issue. This is not the right versus the left because there is no liberal air or conservative air. We all breathe the same air. There is no liberal water or conservative water, we all drink the same water.”

The proposed covenants would build on the UN’s earlier human rights covenants covering, social, economic, and cultural rights, and civil and political rights.

France to ban all new oil and gas exploration in renewable energy drive, ‘Ecological transition’ minister says law will be passed later this year by Lizzie Dearden, June 24, 2017, The Independent

France is to stop granting licences for oil and gas exploration as part of a transition towards environmentally-friendly energy being driven by Emmanuel Macron’s government.

Nicolas Hulot, the “ecological transition” minister said a law would be passed in the autumn.

“There will be no new exploration licences for hydrocarbons,” he told BFMTV.

The minister, previously famed in France for his environmental activism and nature documentaries, also outlined proposals to increase the taxation on diesel and to “make decisions faster” to curtail pollution.

Mr Macron said he was opposed to exploration for gas and favoured a ban on fracking during his election campaign, particularly in the overseas territory of French Guiana.

But Mr Hulot was among those warning that any ban would trigger lawsuits from energy companies and saying change must be imposed gradually.

Around 75 per cent of France’s electricity is currently provided by nuclear power stations, with the industry employing around 200,000 people and led by state-owned EDF.

A law was passed last year to reduce the nuclear proportion to 50 per cent by 2025, sparking controversy over potential job losses and the closure of up to 20 reactors.

Mr Macron reinstated his commitment to the law last month but has evaded concrete targets for the ultimate aim of making France run completely on renewable energy.

The President is also planning a huge renovation programme for French homes to reduce energy consumption, cut carbon dioxide emissions, reduce energy poverty and create jobs.

He and Mr Hulot discussed renewable energy schemes and global warming with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and former Governor of California, as part of his trip to France on Friday.

Mr Schwarzenegger said he was honoured to speak to Mr Macron and ministers about “how we can work together for a clean energy future” and was seen posing with a T-shirt reading “Make Our Planet Great Again” with Mr Hulot.

The Hollywood star has publicly sparred with Donald Trump, a fellow Republican and Apprentice host over climate change and the President’s decision to withdraw the US from the historic Paris accords.

France was among the countries heavily criticising the decision, with the government posting an annotated White House video on social media refuting the President’s claims that the agreement was a “bad deal” for the US.

[Refer also to:


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2014 04 05: France: Court bans US company Hess from drilling for fear of fracking and cancelled drilling permit despite the company’s promise not to frac

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2011 05 13: France bans ‘fracking’ after months of protest

2011 05 11: France to ban fracking of fossil fuels ]

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