France to end sales of petrol, diesel vehicles by 2040, govt says

A Twizy electric car by French car manufacturer Renault, drives past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, May 30, 2017.
A Twizy electric car by French car manufacturer Renault, drives past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, May 30, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - 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, new Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot announced Thursday (July 6).

The announcement came as French President Emmanuel Macron said climate change action need to go beyond the 2015 Paris agreement, reinforcing his earlier position on an international deal hit by US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out.

"We are announcing an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040," Hulot said, calling it a "veritable revolution".

Hulot acknowledged that reaching the target would be "tough", particularly for automakers, but said that France's car industry was well equipped to make the switch.

French car manufacturers 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.

Hulot, a veteran environmental campaigner, was among several political newcomers to whom President Emmanuel Macron gave top jobs in his government.

Several European countries have announced plans to dramatically reduce the amount of polluting petrol and diesel cars on their roads in favour of cleaner hybrid or all-electric vehicles.

Germany aims to put one million electric cars on the road by 2020.

In 2016, hybrid and electric cars accounted for 3.6 per cent of new cars registered in Western Europe.

Macron is leading the charge to keep the momentum on the landmark accord that was reached in the French capital in 2015, after Trump's decision to pull out drew condemnation from world leaders.

"The Paris agreement is... a step in the right direction but it is not enough and we need to continue to advance and show, in terms of concrete plans and financing, our ability to go beyond it," said Macron on Thursday.

Macron was speaking during a joint briefing with the head of the World Bank in Paris and ahead of a visit to Paris by Trump next week.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said that, for his part, the World Bank firmly backed the COP21 Paris climate change agreement.