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France to End Diesel and Gasoline Vehicle Sales by 2040

Ending the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles is intended to help the country reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
July 7, 2017

​PARIS – Reuters reports that France is planning to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040 and become carbon neutral 10 years later, Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot said in regard to the Paris climate agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron intends to move ahead with implementing the pact to fight climate change, and Hulot presented an array of measures under six themes and 23 policy proposals, notes the news source.

"One of the symbolic acts of the plan is that France, which previously had made the promise to divide its greenhouse gas emissions by four by 2050, has decided to become carbon neutral by 2050 following the U.S. decision," Hulot said. "The carbon neutral objective will force us to make the necessary investments.”

Hulot said that proposals such as ending the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles are a tall order, but that solutions were available and French carmakers would be up to the task. Reuters notes that diesel and gasoline vehicles represented about 95.2% of French new car fleets in the first half of year, while electric vehicles hold just 1.2% of the market and hybrid cars make up about 3.5%.

“In the details of the announcement it is noted that France plans to continue allowing the sale of hybrid vehicles after 2040,” said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. “Hybrid vehicles, which are equipped with a battery that supports vehicle operation during certain conditions, are primarily powered by an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline or diesel fuel.

“The progress towards a more diversified and sustainable transportation will continue and government initiatives will spur more rapid adoption, but even France has carved out a safety net for consumers and automakers in the event electric powertrains do not develop to be commercially viable and available in sufficient numbers in time to satisfy the proposed mandate. It will be interesting to see how markets develop and whether the French policy will sustain the next 23 years of evolution,” Eichberger added.

Ending the use of fossil fuels was also central in the French objective to cut carbon emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050, Hulot said. France also plans to end coal-generated electricity production by 2022, and the government maintained its objective of cutting the share of nuclear power generation in the French electricity make-up from the current 75% to 50% by 2025. "The 2025 date is the objective, I hope we will keep to it," he said.

Reuters writes that France will also restrict the use of palm oil in the production of biofuels to help reduce indirect deforestation.