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Thursday, 6 July 2017

France to ban all petrol, diesel vehicles

Renault’s Zoe electric car will escape France’s ban after 2040. Inset: France’s President Emmanuel Macron. PHOTO: RENAULT.
France will outlaw the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, its new environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, has announced.

It will also ban any “new project to use petrol, gas or coal”, as well as shale oil, by that date.

The radical measures were unveiled at a press conference as part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to “make the planet great again,” the Telegraph said.

Mr Hulot, a former star wildlife TV presenter, announced “the end of the sale of petrol or vehicles between now and 2040″ and a pledge to make France carbon neutral by 2050. “The carbon neutral objective will force us to make the necessary investments,” he added.

The move was, he said, a “veritable revolution”, adding that reaching the target would be “tough”, particularly for carmakers, but said that France’s car industry was well equipped to make the switch.

Peugeot, Citroen and Renault ranked first, second and third on a 2016 list of large car manufacturers with the lowest carbon emissions, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said.

Mr Hulot cited the example of a “European maker” who had already decided to take the plunge. That was a reference to Volvo, which on Wednesday announced plans to build only electric and hybrid vehicles starting in 2019, making it the first major automaker to abandon cars and SUVs powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

CEO Hakan Samuelsson said the move was dictated by customer demand. It means that in two years, all new Volvo vehicles will have some form of electric propulsion.

“The solutions are there, our own makers have in their boxes the means to fulfill this promise,” said Mr Hulot, calling it a “public health” issue.

Paris, Lyon, Grenoble and other French cities have a chronic smog problem.

France is by no means the only country aiming to ban combustion-powered cars in some form. Germany wants to do away with 100 per cent combustion-powered vehicles by 2030, as does India. The Netherlands and Norway wish to do so by 2025.

Diesel and gasoline vehicles represented about 95.2 percent of French new car fleets in the first half of year, while electric vehicles hold 1.2 percent of the market. Hybrid cars make up about 3.5 percent.

Mr Hulot said that even if France lagged countries such as Sweden and Costa Rica on this front, it would nevertheless embrace that “spirit” and look to end the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

Among the key policy proposals is the plan to end the delivery of hydrocarbon licences in France, with legislation to that effect due later this year.

The minister also said that France will stop producing power from coal-power stations – currently five per cent of the total – by 2022. The country also wants to reduce the proportion of its power from nuclear to 50 percent by 2025, from the current 75 per cent.

France will also take measures to restrict the use of palm oil in the production of biofuels with the aim of reducing indirect deforestation.

Mr Macron promised to take a lead in fighting climate change after US president president Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris climate accords. Aping the US president’s campaign slogan to “make America great again”, Mr Macron promised to “make the planet great again” and invited US climate scientists to flock to France.

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