France commits to end global financing of fossil fuels by 2022

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France has pledged to join the agreement ending foreign public financing of coal, oil and gas projects by the end of 2022, the government announced on the last day of the COP26 climate conference.

France's declaration concerns both bilateral official development aid and export financing for fossil fuel projects that do not have greenhouse gas emission mitigation mechanisms, the government said in a statement.

"The fight against climate change means turning the page on fossil fuels", the Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili tweeted.

Earlier Friday, US climate envoy John Kerry told COP26 attendees that trillions of dollars have been spent on fossil fuel subsidies “in the last five or six years”. It was “the definition of insanity”, he said.

34th signatory

Today's announcement means that all French public finance institutions, including the export credit agencies responsible for €9.3bn in public finance for oil and gas between 2009 and 2019, need to end this financing by the end of 2022.

France is the 34th signatory to pledge to end international public finance for fossil fuel projects after it was launched at COP26 on 4 November. It joins other EU countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Belgium as well as the US and UK.

Environmental groups say shifting public finance for energy away from fossil fuels and into clean energy is urgently needed if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C by the end of the century.

"The French government finally succumbs to diplomatic and civil society pressure," said Lorette Philippot of Friends of the Earth France. "It is a crucial win after years of mobilisation against climate-wrecking subsidies to fossil fuels overseas."

Winding down support

In 2017 France introduced a law banning the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons on its territory and committed to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, blamed for massive greenhouse gases emissions responsible for global warming.

In 2020, the government decided to end all public support for R&D projects around coal and unconventional hydrocarbons.

The timeline – 2025 for oil projects and 2035 for gas projects – has now been significantly advanced.

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