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France to end sales of petrol, diesel vehicles by 2040

This photo taken on January 16, 2015 shows a motorist using a pump to fill his car's tank at a petrol station on the A25 motorway near Godewaersvelde, northern France. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 06, 2017, 04.12 PM (IST)

As part of its ambitious plan to meet its Paris climate accord targets, France pledged today to end sales of petrol and diesl vehicles by 2040, its new Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot said today according to an AFP report.

"We are announcing an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040," Hulot said, calling it a "veritable revolution". Hulot, a long-time environemental campaigner fresh into politics in his major post under Macron's new government, has called for France to be "carbon neutral" by 2050.

Hulot said that weaning France off conventional cars was a matter of "public health"; Majot French cities like Paris, Lyon, Grenoble and others have a chronic smog problem. Hulot's appointment was seen by many as a testament to Macron's commitment to environmentalism.

French Minister of Ecological and Inclusive Transition Nicolas Hulot delivers a speech to present his plan on climate on July 6, 2017 in Paris. (AFP)

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A prepared French industry

France is the largest manufacturer of electric cars sold in Europe, with the Renault Zoe outselling by a large margin other models in 2016.  Hulot said that French carmakers Peugeot-Citroen and Renault were well equipped to make the change, but conceded that obtaining the goal would be "tough".

This announcement comes a day after Volvo announced it is phasing out its petrol-only cars beginning in 2019. All new Volvos will be either electric or hybrids.  

Still, in 2016 hybrid and electric cars accounted for only 3.6 per cent of new cars registered in Western Europe, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

But, undeterred, last month the 39-year-old Macron hit back at US President Donald Trump's announcement that he would pull out of the 2015 Paris accord with a video vowing to "make our planet great again", a play on Trump's campaign pledge to "make America great again".

Nicolas Hulot himself as also been involved and even starred in viral videos about fighting climate change, like this 2015 one, released before COP 21 in France and seen over two million times.

(With agency inputs)

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