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France considering a ban on all fossil fuel vehicles by 2040

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A bold move by the Macron government

The Society Of Motor Manufacturers Displays Alternatively-Fueled Cars Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

France is considering banning the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, the country’s environmental minister said Thursday, according to multiple reports. It’s unclear, however, whether this proposal is an official position of French President Emmanuel Macron’s new government, and if so, how it will be implemented. But it’s a sign of France’s desire to be a leader in sustainable energy after the departure of the US from the Paris climate accord.

Nicolas Hulot, who is France’s minister of ecological and solidarity transition, 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,” while acknowledging the move would be tough for France’s automakers. “Our [car]makers have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise ... which is also a public health issue,” he said, according to The Guardian.

The announcement was praised by environmentalist for going further than previous administrations in France. And automotive experts noted that by giving itself over 20 years to accomplish the goal, France’s government was sending a clear signal to auto manufacturers to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

The announcement comes a day after Volvo committed to phase out gas-only car production by 2019. It also puts France in line with some other European countries that have already committed to ending production of fossil fuel-burning vehicles. Norway has set a target for only allowing the sale of electric and plug-in hybrid cars by 2025. The Netherlands and Germany are also considering similar bans.

Electric vehicles will make up 54 percent of all light-duty vehicle sales by 2040, up from the 35 percent share Bloomberg was forecasting just last year, according to a new report by the research group. Some have even argued that France’s proposal will be moot if electric vehicles end up taking over conventional cars more rapidly than most analysts predict.