France will end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as part of an ambitious plan to meet its targets under the Paris climate accord, Emmanuel Macron’s government has announced.
The following article appeared orginally in the Guardian
According to the Guardian the announcement comes a day after Volvo said it would only make fully electric or hybrid cars from 2019 onwards, a decision hailed as the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine’s dominance of motor transport after more than a century.
Renault’s Zoe electric car will escape France’s ban after 2040. Photograph: Renault
Nicolas Hulot, the country’s new ecology minister, said: “We are announcing an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.” Hulot added that the move was a “veritable revolution”.
He said it would be a “tough” objective for carmakers but France’s industry was well equipped to make the switch. “Our [car]makers have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise ... which is also a public health issue.”
Hulot insisted that the decision was a question of public health policy and “a way to fight against air pollution”. The veteran environmental campaigner was among several political newcomers to whom Macron gave top jobs in his government.
Pascal Canfin, the head of WWF France and a former Green politician who served in François Hollande’s government, said the new policy platform to counter climate change went further than previous administrations in France. “It places France among the leaders of climate action in the world,” he told France Inter radio.
Prof David Bailey, an automotive industry expert at Aston University, said: “The timescale involved here is sufficiently long term to be taken seriously. If enacted it would send a very clear signal to manufacturers and consumers of the direction of travel and may accelerate a transition to electric cars.”
Norway, which has the highest penetration of electric cars in the world, has set a target of only allowing sales of 100% electric or plug-in hybrid cars by 2025.
Other countries have floated the idea of banning cars powered by an internal combustion engine to meet air quality and climate change goals, but have not yet passed concrete targets.
The Netherlands has mooted a 2025 ban for diesel and petrol cars, and some federal states in Germany are keen on a 2030 phase-out.
India, where scores of cities are blighted by dangerous air pollution, is mulling the idea of no longer selling petrol or diesel cars by 2030, and said it wants to introduce electric cars in “a very big way”.
The UK has an aspiration of all new cars being electric or ultra low emission by 2040, but has been criticised by campaigners and politicans for being slow to act on air pollution.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said: “I welcome the strong leadership the French government has shown by making the decision to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
“This radical step shames the timid and insufficient response of our own government to the health threat posed by poor air quality.”
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