France’s Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has unveiled a first set of eco-friendly measures, including a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration licenses.

Rolling out his agenda on June 23, he said he would take a soft approach to reducing fossil fuels.

“There will be no new exploration licences for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn,” Hulot told the BFMTV news channel.

As reported by France24, this measure would essentially kill development of shale oil and gas in mainland France and in the country’s overseas territories, but does nothing to curb ongoing exploration or extraction projects involving conventional oil and gas.

Hulot argued that abruptly ending previously approved exploration licenses and extraction permits would expose the government to costly lawsuits from energy firms. “France’s budget can do without that, believe me,” he said.

The minister’s announcement on June 23 received a lukewarm response from environmentalists who wanted Hulot to adopt a harder line.

“There are at least 55 exploration licenses that were previously approved and will likely be extended, and 132 extraction permits awaiting approval,” said Juliette Renaud, a fossil fuel industry expert with Friends of the Earth.

The proposed ban will also do nothing about existing drilling. According to official data, France has 64 active oil and gas fields covering an area around 4,000 square kilometres. France produces only 1% of its own oil needs, relying on imports for the rest.

In a separate report, the Independent noted Hulot and French President Emmanuel Macron met with actor and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, on June 23 to discuss global warming.

Schwarzenegger said he was honoured to speak to Macron and ministers about “how we can work together for a clean energy future” and was seen posing with a T-shirt reading “Make Our Planet Great Again” with Hulot.

The Hollywood star has publicly sparred with Donald Trump, a fellow Republican and Apprentice host over climate change and the President’s decision to withdraw the US from the historic Paris accords.

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