As part of its plan to meet its targets under the Paris climate change agreement, France is seeking to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.
Ecology minister Nicolas Hulot announced the plan alongside a series of measures figuring in newly elected president Emmanuel Macron’s mission to make France carbon-neutral by 2050.
Petrol And Diesel Car Phaseout
“We are announcing an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040,” Hulot said, dubbing the move a “veritable revolution.”
Reaching the goal would be tough and would exert pressure on French car manufacturers, but current projects “can fulfill that promise,” Hulot said. Car makers Peugeot-Citroen and Renault are well-equipped to make the transition, he added.
Poorer households, too, will be given a premium to enable them to swap their affected vehicles for clean alternatives.
The announcement came after Sweden’s Volvo said Wednesday that it planned to phase out petrol-only car production starting 2019, with all new car models as either electric or hybrids. It is the first major auto manufacturer to commit to producing electric models only.
Tackling Climate Change
At the press conference, Hulot told the media that France would halt the use of coal for electricity by 2022 and its current investments of up to €4 billion ($4.56 billion) will help boost energy efficiency in the country.
He also highlighted the new French president’s five-year plan to adopt clean energy use and fulfill the nation’s commitments under the landmark climate accord.
"We want to demonstrate that fighting against climate change can lead to an improvement of French people's daily lives," Hulot said.
France’s plan, however, faced criticism of not being ambitious enough in the fight against climate change. The Netherlands and Norway seek to sell only electric cars beginning 2025, while India and Germany plans to do the same thing in 2030.
With cars typically lasting around 15 years, the French target would mean gasoline and diesel-powered cars would stay on the road until 2055.
Greg Archer, director of clean vehicles at Brussels-based group Transport & Environment, dubbed the move as the “absolutely right direction” to be taken but hit it for being too long to meet France’s own climate change goals.
Electric cars have a mere fraction of total market share, yet sales are growing. In the first six months of this year, for instance, Renault sold 17,000 battery-powered Zoe compact cars or the same number as in 2016.