THE END OF FOSSIL FUELS?
Fossil fuels helped develop America during the great industrialization, and it helped make the US the greatest country in the 21st century. Oil has helped build countries across the Middle East and Scandinavia. Despite the immense economic benefits accruing to oil producing countries around the world, the environment has suffered degradation as a result.
FRANCE MAKES A BOLD STATEMENT
In a bold move, the French Government announced an immediate ban on new oil exploration licenses and all oil exploration by 2040 which is a follow-up on UN Paris climate agreement. The French parliament banned the exploitation of natural gas from shale by fracking – hydraulic fracturing. The bill was passed by both the lower chamber and the Senate.
Oil companies presently drilling shale deposits using hydraulic fracturing in French territories will have their permits repelled unless they switch to eco-friendlier methods. Fracturing involves the injection of water and chemicals into the ground to release natural gas at high pressure. The process has a deleterious effect on the environment; polluting water wells and producing toxic waste.
France produces only a minute fraction of its crude oil demand, 815,000 tons per year, and is reliant on importation from other countries; about 98 percent of France’s oil demand is imported. It is perceived that France may have taken this stance owing to the comparatively smaller revenue generated rather than working in the best interest of the environment.
In a related move, France is also luring US climate scientists abroad with close to 2000 researchers applying for French grants. This move will turn the focus on America and other oil producing nations across the globe.
THE AMERICAN POSITION
President Trump has back the continued exploration of shale oil which the nation has in large deposits. The clean power plan set up by the Obama administration will be repelled, and an increase in coal output is expected. New York is planning to repel the moratorium placed on hydraulic fracturing of shale oil.
THE WORLD’S POSITION
It remains to be seen the position other nations will take; opting for cleaner technology will cost more and reduce revenue earned by oil-producing states. Costa Rica had previously placed a suspension on exploration until 2021 before the French government position was declared in November.
The world bank, a week earlier, announced its decision to stop funding exploration of fossil fuels after 2019.
There have been detailed reports of fracking causing pollutions in water wells, and now studies are analyzing the effect of hydraulic fracturing on infants. The study found that infants born were liable to be born underweight. This increases the possibility of developing medical conditions like infant mortality, asthma, and ADHD. Fracking affects babies while in the uterus before delivery.
Furthermore, babies born within a 3 kilometers of a fracking site were more liable to be born underweight.
More research and effort is being invested in alternative energy and biofuels. Electric cars and hybrids are becoming increasingly popular. It remains to be seen if more nations will be willing to adopt cleaner technology wholly.