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France dreams of becoming the next leader of the energy revolution

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Nicolas Hulot, Minister of Ecological and Solidary Transition on July 6.
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NORMAN, Okla. -- After the last announcements of India and Norway to stop the sales of gas and diesel cars by respectively 2030 and 2025 it was the turn of France to announce similar measures for 2040 last Thursday.

Even if France has a less ambitious goal than the two countries cited above, Norway is sailing 12 times fewer cars than France each year and India has only 32 motor vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, in comparison France had 578 motor vehicles per inhabitants in 2015.

The French government said it will support gas and diesel alternative such as among other nitrogen, Liquified Natural Gas and electric motorization to meet its goal. The French government will also provide a financial help for the more modest to replace their old cars.

But far than only concerning cars motorization, which the new Minister of Ecological and Solidary Transition, Nicolas Hulot said it will be difficult to realize, the announcement is part of a bigger plan to push France as an environmental world leader.

“We have the ambition to get carbon neutrality by 2050,”Hulot said during a press conference on Thursday.

To achieve this objective Hulot said France will stop producing electricity from charcoal by 2022, which represents three percent of France energy mix production. Hulot added the French government will vote a law at the end of this summer to stop all new operating permit in oil and gas.

The goal of the new French government is not only to stop the production and use of the most polluting fossil energy but also reduce the overall consumption of energy by improving buildings thermal insulation.

“The subject of energy efficiency is a subject where everybody wins,”Hulot said, adding four billion euros will be allowed for this task.

The reduction of the consumption of energy will help another goal, reduce the dependency toward nuclear production by reducing the total amount from 75 percent to 50 percent of the energy mix by 2025. Hulot said that probably up to 17 nuclear reactors will have to be shut down in order to meet the objective.

“If we want to achieve our goal, mechanically as we will diversify the energy mix and reduce energy production, we will be able to close nuclear reactors,”Hulot said.

But not only to just closing nuclear reactors, the Minister of Ecological and Solidary Transition will have to deal with the various forces involved such as the main operator of the nuclear reactors EDF (Electricity De France) and the local population working in the nuclear plants.

For some specialists, the task seems difficult. However, more than one year after the signature of the Paris Agreement everyone will recognize that it is a long time that France did not have a specific and enthusiastic plan that can inspire other countries to do the same in the fight against climate change.

“It is a very difficult objective,”Hulot said. “But the solutions are there.”

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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