France rolls out new energy plan…

The French government has just announced their plans to make the country carbon neutral by 2050, and the initial reaction is…let’s say “skeptical”.  Among the actions they intend to take, here’s a few highlights:

  1. Kill-off their domestic oil and gas industry by ending the sale of oil and gas leases in the country.  That’s right, they have a domestic oil and gas industry…who knew?!  Apparently, France currently produces about as much oil and gas as 4 pretty decent wells in West Texas (about 18,000 bopd and a few million cubic feet of gas per day).  So this proposal should actually be pretty easy to accomplish, even if it really won’t affect carbon emissions much, if any.  After they send all their oil and gas workers to the unemployment line, they’ll just end up importing a bit more petroleum and natural gas.
  2. End the sale of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles (which make-up 95.2% of the country’s current fleet) by 2040.  France’s Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot (the guy announcing all these plans) seems to not be sure how this is actually going to happen as it will take some sort of a “revolution”, but he’s sure France’s automakers will be up to the task of killing their businesses the internal combustion engine…
  3. Totally kill off coal generation by 2022 and reduce nuclear energy generation from the current 75% to 50% of the energy mix by 2025…creating a giant energy hole that apparently will be filled, in large part, by improving energy efficiency.  If there’s that much inefficiency in the system, why haven’t they fixed it already?
  4. Ban any “new project to use petrol, gas or coal”. The news reports didn’t give any context or details as to what this means…hopefully they misinterpreted the French to English because this doesn’t really make any sense.  First, France is Europe’s third largest consumer of natural gas and is pretty reliant on it for wintertime heating; and second, what’s a project? Is Airbus, one of France’s largest and most prestigious employers, going to have to limit the launch of new airplanes designs to only those that can run on batteries?

Even Greenpeace really doesn’t see how this is all going to work. As Reuters quotes, “We are left wanting, on how these objectives will be achieved,” Greenpeace campaigner Cyrille Cormier said in a statement. “The goal to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040 sends out a strong signal, but we would really like to know what are the first steps achieve this, and how to make this ambition something other than a disappointment,” he said.

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Mr. Hulot notes that they are taking these steps because of Donald Trump.  Since Trump declared that the US would no longer be a party to the Paris Accords, Mr. Hulot is going to make sure France does something about it…even if most think it all sounds a bit impossible (and seems like it could bankrupt the country).  So yeah, Greenpeace, prepare for disappointment.

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