French parliament has announced a bold plan to see the country become carbon neutral by 2050 including banning the sale of fossil-fuelled cars by 2040.
The announcement was made by Nicolas Hulot, an environmental activist recently appointed as the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy as part of the newly elected Macron government.
The move comes in retaliation to US president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, with Mr Hulot declaring "France has decided to become carbon neutral by 2050 following the US decision."
Mr Hulot admitted that French automakers faced tough times to meet the requirements, but was confident in their ability to comply. Already a 2016 study revealed that Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault occupied the top three spots in a European Environment Agency list of major carmakers with the lowest carbon emissions.
To assist in the transition the government also pledged to offer incentives to owners of older petrol and diesel vehicles to upgrade to either new, or at least newer secondhand vehicles deemed less polluting.
The future of existing internal combustion-fuelled cars, including classic or historical vehicles has yet to be defined.
The move will create a seismic shift in buyer patterns with EVs making up only 1.2 percent of France’s new car market, and hybrid cars accounting for 3.5 percent based on current figures.
Automobiles aren’t the only pollution source to come under scrutiny under the new plan, with coal-fired power plants to be phased out by 2022, and a reduction in reliance on nuclear power by 2025 (although carbon-neutral, nuclear energy presents other environmental and safety risks).
New projects relating to the exploration or use of oil, gas, or coal will also be halted in the lead up to the 2050 target, with existing agreements to be reviewed depending on their potential impact.
France isn’t the first country to declare a move to alternate fuel vehicles (with EVs and hydrogen expected to be the popular options), Norway has set itself a 2025 deadline before banning the sale of new internal combustion cars, with Germany, The Netherlands, and India all looking to make similar moves.