As the world drifts away from natural gas and use of oil for fuels and into more environmentally friendly forms such as wind, solar and electric energy, some countries are starting to arrange their future. The first major shoe to drop comes from France, as the country announced that it would ban all production (and exploration) of oil and natural gas either in the year 2040 or even earlier.
The ban also applies to France’s territories outside of the country, and the ban became the first of its kind in the world. While it might not mean much in the long run, it does set a precedent for other countries to follow. The amount of oil and gas that’s used in France is only one percent from the country. The rest comes from other countries, but it’s a strong move that France hopes will force other countries to join in.
France had already announced that cars that run on gas would also be banned in terms of sales by the same year, so it makes sense that the country would just get rid of production altogether. Nicolas Hulot, France’s Environment Minister, says that this law that “current generations can take care of future generations.”
The move came after China announced that it’s hoping to no longer be the number one country in terms of air pollution. China says that it plans to charge businesses significant amounts for emitting greenhouses gases, and that they would have to receive credits just to do so. Many are hoping that the United States also follows suit eventually.
Former United States Vice President Al Gore, a leader in climate change research, was impressed with China’s efforts. “China’s move to create the world’s largest carbon market is yet another powerful sign that a global sustainability revolution is underway.” He added that with China’s “transition to a low carbon economy, it is clear that we’re at a tipping point in the climate crisis.”
Gore went on to say that “Economic opportunities will flow to those countries who establish leadership in the markets of the future. American states, cities, businesses, investors and citizens understand this opportunity. Leaders everywhere must choose to either act to solve the climate crisis, or watch their nations fall behind.”
Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund echoed Gore’s sentiments, saying that China making the change and following France’s example is nothing short of monumental. “This is like the Mount Everest of climate policy,” he said. “It’s an incredibly ambitious undertaking.”
Turning the attention back to France, the world would be missing an average of 16,000 barrels of petroleum each day if they were the only country to go through with their ban. While that’s a small number compared to many other countries (including 10.4 million barrels per day from Saudi Arabia), it still sends a message.
The coming years will see if other countries follow suit, though it could take much more time considering how high production of oil and natural gas is in other countries. China is the major target for now, while countries like Saudi Arabia and the United States could be the two largest hurdles to clear.