France’s president Francois Hollande announced at this year’s UN climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco that all coal power plants in the country will cease operations by 2023. Hollande also acknowledged United States president Barack Obama’s crucial role in creating the Paris agreement, which was signed last year by 175 countries vowing to reduce carbon emissions significantly by exhausting the best options available to science.
Hollande also mentioned that signing the Paris agreement is “irreversible” and that the U.S. must honor the commitment it made in the treaty. This is amid reports that president-elect Donald Trump has been looking for a way to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement. Trump, a known climate change denier, has previously dismissed climate change as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese “to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” (he later claimed the statement was a joke).
France already derives over 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear fission, a power source with fewer health and environmental consequences than fossil fuels, making the country a world leader in low-carbon energy. They also export a significant amount, with the World Nuclear Association reporting that “France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation and gains over €3 billion per year from this.”
This statement to cease operations at all coal power plants in the country by 2023 says a lot about how serious France is about making the radical changes needed to save our environment. Earlier this year, the country released a roadmap stating their goals through their energy transition law. Then in September, they passed a bill banning the use of conventional plastic in disposables such as cups, cutlery, and dishware starting 2020, making them the first country in the world to impose this law.
France’s attitude has been echoed by many world leaders at the conference. Germany pledged to an up-to-95-percent reduction of their greenhouse emissions by 2050, and the UK declared that they will phase out coal power by 2025. The consequences of climate change are dire, regardless of how much some people want to deny it. By vowing to meet hard deadlines, these countries are setting a good precedent for the rest of the world.