Since President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the world has been looking towards other countries to pick up global leadership on climate change action. France recently announced that it plans to become the first country to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production by 2040, according to a draft bill. What does this signal for markets and other governments? Is France stepping forward into a new era of global leadership on climate change?
Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, countries agreed to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees of warming and strive for 1.5 degrees. Impacts are still expected at 2 degrees of warming, but at least some of the world’s coral reefs could survive. Beyond this level, coral reefs, which a quarter of the world’s marine life and half a billion people depend on, are expected to be completely wiped out.
At the United Nations this week, French President Emmanuel Macron described the Paris climate deal as a “pact between generations” and has told Donald Trump that the climate deal will not be renegotiated. Macron also stated that the “door will always remain open” for America to re-join, and suggested he hopes to convince Trump to do so.
The terrifying math of climate change shows us that in order to stay within the 2-degree safety limit, the majority of the world’s existing fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground and not be burned. Macron’s plans to rule out fossil fuel exploration are essential, as exploration for new fossil fuels risks pushing the world over dangerous thresholds. Climate change is an existential threat. At six degrees of warming, which we could get if all remaining fossil fuels were burned, falling oxygen levels could be a threat to the survival of life on earth. France’s new policy to phase out oil and gas exploration is absolutely in line with the science, and if anything, the year of 2040 is too late – exploration needs to be ruled out earlier.
France’s leadership on climate change
In the past year Macron has showed great leadership on climate change. After Trump’s withdrawal from the global climate agreement, Macron strongly rebuked Trump on this, and his twitter statement to “make the planet great again” rapidly went viral.
In July, Macron announced…