France could clear its roads of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, according to the country's environment minister Nicolas Hulot, who on Thursday announced radical environmental directives as part of President Emmanuel Macron's Paris Agreement agenda.
"The threat to our fellow citizens is diffuse, unpredictable, and the exact timeline can not be scientifically determined," Hulot said in a prepared statement from France's Ministry of Ecology, according to France's largest newspaper Le Monde. "Our responsibility is to make this subject dominant over all others."
Between now and 2040, the French government will reduce sales and advertising of petrol and diesel vehicles, seeking to enforce a complete ban on 100 percent diesel, and petrol-reliant vehicles, within 22 years. France joins Germany, India, Holland and Norway in seeking to ban vehicles that rely on diesel and petrol combustion.
The announcement is timely. On Wednesday one of Europe's largest vehicle manufacturers, Volvo, said that every car it will produce from 2018 will have an electric motor. The company's chief executive Håkan Samuelsson said in a statement, "People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs."
To start France's transition, Hulot said that owners of high pollutant vehicles will receive government incentives whereby they will be eligible to trade what they have for cleaner cars.
"Thanks to the investment plan, the government will propose a transition bonus to replace a pre-1997 diesel car or a pre-2001 gasoline diesel car with a cleaner, new or used vehicle," he said, according to Le Monde.
Other initiatives announced by Hulot include reducing France's usage of nuclear energy to just 50 percent of the country's entire energy mix by 2025, closing excess nuclear reactors in the meantime. Hulot also announced that France would end all coal energy production by 2022, hoping to achieve complete carbon neutrality for the country by 2050. In 2015, 2.2 percent of France's electricity production came from coal.
Hulot's announcement comes as Greenpeace activists on Thursday projected "No Trump, Yes Paris" onto a Warsaw building in protest to Donald Trump's state visit to Poland. Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement in June.