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France to ban oil, gas output on home soil in symbolic step

PARIS — France’s government is unveiling a law to ban all production and exploration of oil and natural gas by 2040 on the country’s mainland and overseas territories.

The move is largely symbolic, however, as France’s oil and gas production represents just 1 per cent of national consumption — the rest is imported.

Current drilling permits will not be renewed, according to the draft bill obtained by The Associated Press. The bill is to be formally presented in a Cabinet meeting later Wednesday.

France currently has 63 oil and gas drilling on its territory.

The government claims such a ban is a world first. It is part of a larger plan to wean the country’s economy from fossil fuels, to encourage clean energy and fulfil France’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement to curb global warming.

The bill elaborated by Environment minister Nicolas Hulot also includes a definitive ban on all shale gas exploration and extraction.

Until now, only hydraulic fracturing, a process better known as fracking, was banned. All other potential methods and experimentations are now to be prohibited.

Hulot has already announced in July that France will stop producing power from coal — now 5 per cent of the total — by 2022.

In parallel, the country wants to reduce the proportion of its power from nuclear energy to 50 per cent by 2025, from the current 75 per cent.

The Associated Press

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