France announces plan to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040

France’s new Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot announced plans to ban all petrol and diesel cars in the country by 2040, as part of a series of measures to make France carbon neutral by 2050.

The plan includes providing disadvantaged households an incentive to swap their older, more polluting vehicles with cleaner alternatives.

Speaking at a press conference, Hulot said France also would stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits this year and stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022. It will also invest up to EUR4 billion (USD4.55 billion)  to boost the country’s energy efficiency.

France is not the first country to announce plans to ban internal combustion engine cars. The Netherlands and Norway have announced their plans to get rid of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025. Germany and India have announced similar plans by 2030. Still, coming from a major car-producing country, France’s announcement yesterday gave additional momentum to efforts to combat climate change and reduce air pollution by switching to electric cars.

“It’s a very difficult objective,” Hulot said. “But the solutions are there,” he added.

France also announced that will take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in their countries of origin. French imports of biodiesel, which often contain palm oil, rose to more than 1.1 million tonnes in 2016, from less than 300,000 tonnes in 2010.

France has previously opposed other uses of palm oil, with several bills having been presented to parliament since 2012 proposing a special tax on its use in food.

“We will close a window that offered the possibility for using palm oil in biofuels,” Hulot said. However, he did not provide any details of the plan.