France to uphold ban on sale of fossil fuel cars by 2040

France will help its automakers make the eco-friendly switch

PARIS — The French government's new law on mobility will uphold a planned ban on fossil fuel-powered cars by 2040, Transport Minister Elizabeth Borne said on Tuesday.

Former environment minister Nicolas Hulot said in July 2017 — at the beginning of President Emmanuel Macron's term — that France aimed to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040 in a bid to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Hulot resigned in September 2018 in protest over Macron's lack of commitment to environmental causes and the government has since rarely mentioned the planned ban, partly because of the "yellow vest" protest movement against carbon taxes on fuel prices and the high cost of living.

Borne, who is a deputy to Hulot's successor Francois de Rugy, confirmed in an interview with BFM television that the objective set out by Hulot would be met.

"We have target for carbon neutrality by 2050 and we need a credible trajectory towards that, which includes a ban on the sale of vehicles that consume fossil fuels by 2040," she said.

She said France — which has a large car manufacturing industry led by PSA and Renault — would help its car makers switch to electricity, hydrogen and possibly biogas.

"Since the start of Emmanuel Macron's term, our target is the climate plan that Nicolas Hulot announced in the summer of 2017. We will now inscribe this target into law," Borne said.

The mobility law will also facilitate the rollout of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, notably by giving the residents of apartment buildings the right to ask for the installation of EV plugs in their parking lots.

The much-delayed law, which is currently being debated in parliament, is expected to be approved after the summer and will update a 1982 law on transportation.

The reform wants to favor alternatives to individual automobile usage, upgrade railway networks and create a legal framework for new mobility solutions such as free-floating bicycles, electric scooters and car-sharing.

It will also give companies the option to offer employees a tax-free 400 euro subsidy to come to work on bicycles or with car-sharing. Borne said companies would be obliged to discuss this subsidy in wage negotiations with unions, but the subsidy would not be mandatory for all companies.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by Ed Osmond)

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