France has just announced plans to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, following India’s push to switch to entirely electric vehicles. The country’s environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, revealed the plan as part of the nation's goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Newly elected Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron wants France to be the European leader in clean energy.
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Car manufacturers on red alert
The announcement would have certainly put car manufacturers on red alert, but Hulot has said that they don’t need to worry, hinting they had plans that "can fulfill that promise". Perhaps he was talking about Volvo who last week announced they would stop making internal combustion engine vehicles and move towards fully electric and hybrid vehicle production only, starting from 2019.
The ban is just one step for France to be closer to achieving their commitments under the Paris Agreement. The minister went on to say “We want to demonstrate that fighting against climate change can lead to an improvement of French people's daily lives.”
Naturally, a huge hurdle to banning fossil fuel reliant cars is ensuring everyone can financially access alternatives. The plan unveiled yesterday did have some details about the way lower income citizens could access rebates to be able to afford the expensive technology.
Coal produced energy to be scrapped by 2020
Banning cars wasn’t the only thing announced yesterday. The minister also outlined France's plan to stop using coal to produce electricity by 2020 and discussed the €4 billion of investments that the government will use to increase energy efficiency.
Imports that contribute to global deforestation were also the target in yesterday's announcement. The plan to end the import of palm oil and unsustainably grown soya was announced. These two crops have devastating impacts on forests particularly in the Amazon, South-East Asia and in Congo.
Hulot, himself a former wildlife TV presenter, presented information on deforestation, stating it caused up to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The reasoning behind the move is a way for people at all levels of life to understand the impacts of climate change. He argued that it was unfeasible to demand big industry to accept emission reduction changes while at the same time knowingly import products that were causing mass destruction of forests. Further to this push for a wider understanding of environmental issues, France will set up ‘citizen panels. The panels will allow for a debate about practical ways France and its citizens can reduce their carbon footprint and meet the Paris Agreement goals on an everyday level.
The French parliament will vote on the proposal to ban new mining permits in the country for petrol, natural gas and coal when the government return from their summer break.
France has firmly cemented themselves as the European leader in regards to taking strong legislative steps towards reducing climate change and meeting their environmental goals. Ceo of ClientEarth James Thornton, said, "This is a huge statement of intent from the French government and an example of how we’re likely to see exponential change in the coming years as governments grapple with the necessary changes we have to make for air quality and our climate.”