France is set to shut down all of its coal power plants by 2023.
Former French President Francois Hollande made this pronouncement last year at the COP22 UN climate change conference. This move is part of France's efforts to attain carbon neutrality by the year 2050.
Carbon neutrality entails achieving a net zero carbon footprint. You can achieve this by balancing the amount of carbon you release and the amount of carbon you offset. Basically, being carbon neutral is producing no more carbon than the amount you manage to offset. This way, there can be less carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
If France manages to shut down all its coal power plants by 2023, it will be ahead of other major European countries. The UK, for example, has pledged to end their use of fossil fuels by 2025. Germany, meanwhile, plans on cutting 95% of emissions by 2050.
President Hollande's announcement came on the heels of President Donald Trump's pronouncement that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate deal. This, as we may well know, is a pronouncement that Trump made good on.
France's pledge may seem quite ambitious, but it's likely that it won't be a difficult one to keep. France already leads the world in low-carbon energy. In fact, 75% of the country's electricity comes from nuclear energy. Admirably, France also produces a surplus of nuclear fission. The country actually makes $3.19 billion each year by exporting surplus nuclear energy to other countries.
Then-US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the refusal to act on climate change “a moral failure”. Climate change has devastating effects, a number of which we're already experiencing. And yet, it can become much worse. The world's scientists have declared that not only is climate change real, it's actually already happening. However, in spite of mounting evidence, there are those who think that climate change is a hoax.
When President Trump announced that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate deal, he said that he wanted to revive the coal industry in the US. However, the demand for coal is in decline, and it's only a matter of time before coal becomes something that causes more damage than it's worth. Thus, France's move to shut down all of its coal power plants in just a few short years is not just admirable. More importantly, it's also attainable. Perhaps other countries will soon follow suit.
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