It has been quite an exciting week for the global automobile industry. First, Tesla revealed that production of its mass-market electric car, the Tesla Model 3, will begin this week; then, Volvo released the news that it will be producing electric cars exclusively beginning in 2019. Now, Emmanuel Macron’s government has announced that France will end sales of diesel and gas vehicles by 2040 as part of a plan to reach its targets under the Paris climate accord. It also plans to make the country fully carbon neutral by 2050.
This move highlights Macron’s commitment to the Paris accord, which Donald Trump pulled the US out of early last month. Said Ecology Minister Nicholas Hulot at a press conference earlier today, “One of the symbolic acts of the plan is that France, which previously had made the promise to divide its greenhouse gas emissions by four by 2050, has decided to become carbon neutral by 2050 following the U.S. decision.” Macron has also encouraged American climate scientists to relocate to France to continue their work through a new initiative.
Hulot called the ban a “veritable revolution” and said that the decision was made as a way to combat air pollution and improve public health. He acknowledged that the switch to electric cars only may be “tough” for automakers and others in France’s automobile industry, but believes that France is capable of completing this transition smoothly. Said Hulot, “Our [car] makers have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise.”
Automakers in France will have to make their electric models more affordable to mass-market consumers, and the country as a whole will need infrastructure that can support proper and regular charging of electric vehicles. Infrastructure upgrades will be easier for large urban areas such as Paris than they will be for the more rural and less populated parts of France.
Hulot also said that France will work to rely less on fossil fuels for energy, specifically significantly reducing the country’s reliance on coal. The country will stop producing coal-generated power by 2022, and will reduce the amount of its power from nuclear resources from 75% to 50% by 2025. These initiatives and the ban of gas and diesel vehicles are key to achieving carbon-neutral status by the government’s projected deadline.
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