- This article was originally published on Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France)
Thanks to citizen mobilisation, French President Emmanuel Macron and his government will ultimately not support Arctic LNG 2, a Total gas megaproject in the Russian Arctic, which foresaw a 700 million euros public support.
This victory is the result of more than a year of a relentless campaign, led by NGOs and citizens, to fight this climatic and environmental aberration. In May 2021, the mobilisation resulted in the submission of a petition by Les Amis de la Terre / Friends of the Earth France, 350.org and Sum of us to the French government, bringing together more than 240,000 people.
But if this announcement is good news, caution is required as current policy still allows France to support other fossil fuel extraction and combustion projects around the world.
Anna-Lena Rebaud, Climate and Just Transition Campaigner at Les Amis de la Terre / Friends of the Earth France, said:
“France’s withdrawal from such a project sends a strong message. Emmanuel Macron indirectly admits that continuing to extract gas is problematic for climate and biodiversity. In doing so, he gainsays his own policy adopted in 2020 that allows the Public Investiment Bank (Bpifrance) to support gas development projects until 2035.”
What is the Arctic LNG 2 project?
In September 2020, Le Monde revealed that France was gearing up to support the Total gas megaproject, at the heart of a region that is heating up three times faster than the rest of the planet. This project will produce nearly 20 million tonnes of liquefied gas per year and will take advantage of the melting ice to export its production to Europe and Asia via the northern sea route. The extraction of hydrocarbons and the construction of associated infrastructure in such a fragile ecosystem also have serious consequences for the climate and biodiversity.
This week, Total announced that all necessary funding for the project had been lifted. While the French government had remained unclear about its decision for more than a year, the decision is not trivial.
What science says
According to the International Energy Agency, no further investment should go to new hydrocarbon projects, including fossil gas. To consider the least bad IPCC scenario and not go over an overall temperature rise of 1.5°C, it is imperative to leave the hydrocarbons where they are, in the gound.
France’s policy regarding support to fossil fuels
At COP26, France committed alongside 38 countries and institutions to stop supporting fossil fuel projects, with exceptions. The effectiveness of this historic declaration will depend on the thoroughness of its implementation. The French government must follow the example of the United Kingdom, which has already ended export credits to hydrocarbon projects, and put implement a transition plan for the oil services sector and retraining for its employees.