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France to ban diesel and petrol fuel and vehicle sales by 2040

Fred Tanneau, AFP | A person pumps diesel gasoline at a petrol station in Brest in western France on May 29.

France will end the sale of both diesel and petrol-powered vehicles by 2040 as part of plans to meet ambitious targets set out under the Paris climate accord, Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot announced Thursday.


"We are announcing an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040," Hulot said, while acknowledging that the target would be "tough" to reach, particularly for automakers.

Hulot also said the government plans to accelerate the development of renewable energies, saying wind and solar energy generation in France is being hindered by unnecessarily complex administrative hurdles and land tenure issues.

Several European countries have announced plans to reduce the amount of polluting petrol and diesel cars on their roads in favour of cleaner hybrid or all-electric vehicles. Germany, for example, aims to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020.

Diesel cars produce 10 times more air pollution than heavy trucks and buses, according to data from Euractive.

Air pollution is a persistent problem in Paris, which briefly ranked as more polluted than any other city in the world in 2015 – putting it above the usual top offenders like Delhi and Beijing – according to pollution monitoring agency Plume Labs.

In December 2016, the French capital registered its worst winter pollution levels in a decade.

>> In pictures: Paris winter air pollution is worst in 10 years

The main offenders are the fine particles emitted by diesel vehicles, according to Patrick Kinney, an air pollution epidemiologist and professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

But some point out that Paris has taken measures to combat the problem and that air pollution in the capital is actually decreasing.

“We have pollution issues, but lots of other cities do too,” said Karine Leger, assistant director of Airparif in Paris, which monitors air quality for the environment ministry and supplies data to Plume Labs.

“Air quality in the French capital is generally better than a decade ago,” she said. 

>> Read more: Is Paris winning the war against air pollution?

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced ambitious plans to ban cars from key thoroughfares around the Louvre Museum and expand the city’s cycling infrastructure to combat the pollution produced by cars. In a January interview with the weekly "Journal du Dimanche" newspaper, Hidalgo said private vehicles were “archaic".

“The idea is to, little by little, move towards the pedestrianisation of downtown, which over time will stay open to public transport, police, emergency vehicles and deliveries, but not to all vehicles,” she said.

Plans for rue de Rivoli alongside Tuileries Gardens

“We must constantly remember this foregone conclusion: fewer cars, less pollution,” she added.

The mayor plans to halve traffic on the three-lane rue de Rivoli – a key artery through the heart of the city that runs past the Louvre Museum and alongside the popular Tuileries Gardens – and make the street a two-way thoroughfare.

A 4-kilometre bike lane will also open along the rue de Rivoli in the autumn, linking Place de la Bastille in the east of the city to Place de la Concorde in the west.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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