The French parliament has passed a law banning fracking and oil extraction in all of the country’s territories, becoming the second nation in the world to put an end to its oil exploration. The country is also set to ban all exploration and production of oil and natural gas within the borders and in its overseas territories by 2040.

As Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot pointed out, the ban shows that “current generations can take care of future generations.”

The ban is largely a symbolic gesture – France only extracts the equivalent of about 815,000 tons of oil per year, which is the amount Saudi Arabia produces in just a few hours, The Guardian explains. However, as a gesture, it is an exceedingly important one – showing the country to be willing to implement crucial changes in its policies for the betterment of the planet we all inhabit.

President Emmanuel Macron has stated that he wants France to become the leader, as a major world economy, making a switch away from fossil fuels to focus on renewable sources of energy. The ban is also another step towards fulfilling the country’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement to curb climate change.

At the same time that France is making an important and telling change in its policies regarding the issue, the U.S. seems to be going in the exact opposite direction, with Donald Trump’s agenda concerning climate change consisting of denying the very existence of the issue and leading to the country pulling out of the Paris agreement. On the very day that France voted to end gas and oil extraction in the country, the United States Congress voted to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling as part of the Republican’s tax overhaul. However bleak those facts are, France nevertheless remains an example proving that environmentally conscious changes can very much be made by a country – and, hopefully, they are not as drastically far from happening in the U.S. as it now seems.

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