Photo: AP

France—particularly, Paris, with its dreadful air quality—has staked a battle against cars over the past several years, with car-free days, older-car bans, and diatribes against owning a personal vehicle. Now, the government of France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, wants to ban the sale of all gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040, saying it’s a “veritable revolution” to “fight air pollution.”

According to The Guardian, the proposal is an extension of France’s plan to meets its goals set under the Paris Climate Accords. And it comes a day after Volvo said it’ll begin to phase out the production of gas guzzling vehicles and make only hybrid or electric cars.

The Guardian goes on:

Nicolas Hulot, the country’s new ecology minister, 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”.

He said it would be a “tough” objective for carmakers but France’s industry was well equipped to make the switch. “Our [car]makers have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise ... which is also a public health issue.”

Hulot insisted that the decision was a question of public health policy and “a way to fight against air pollution”. The veteran environmental campaigner was among several political newcomers to whom Macron gave top jobs in his government.

There’s an expectation that most vehicles by 2040 will already be electrified, which would render France’s proposal moot; Bloomberg estimated this week that electric cars will outsell fossil-fuel powered vehicles within the next two decades.

Advertisement

Even so, Macron’s plan isn’t nearly as aggressive as some European counterparts. As The Guardian notes, Norway has a goal of allowing only electric or plug-in hybrid cars to be sold by 2025. Still, it’s an ambitious target—and it’s especially notable as automakers continue to ramp-up production on electric vehicles.

Macron has a number of unseemly ideas, and some bad tag lines for how France should be run, but this is the kind of target that’ll be needed if electric vehicles are going to eventually catch on.