France and UK announce plans to outlaw diesel and petrol cars from 2040
Both the French and UK Governments have announced plans to outlaw petrol and diesel cars from their country’s roads by 2040 as part of their commitment to clean air.
In France, recently appointed Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, unveiled a five-year government plan to encourage clean energy and fulfil France's commitments under the Paris climate agreement, and said that French car manufacturers already had projects that "can fulfil that promise".
In the UK, meanwhile, Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, announced plans to outlaw vehicles with only diesel or petrol engines within 23 years’ time. Hybrid cars, which combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor, will still be permitted, however.
The UK Government will also provide a £255 million package to help councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, as part of a £3 billion package of spending on air quality.
The Government said that measures to improve air quality will be funded through changes to the tax treatment for new diesel vehicles, or through reprioritisation within existing departmental budgets.
Further details on changes to the UK tax regime will be announced later in the year in the budget.
The plans came only days after Swedish premium car maker Volvo Cars became the first major carmaker to pledge to stop making cars and SUVs powered solely by the internal combustion engine by 2019 (see story in this newsletter).
At the end of last year, the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced that they planned to take diesel cars and vans off their cities’ roads by 2025.
However, the new French clean air plan covers the whole country and also targets petrol-powered cars. The maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, PSA Group, now Opel’s owner, said the minister's pledge fitted with its goal of offering hybrid or electric versions of 80% of its cars by 2023.
French manufacturers have a strong track record in building electric cars. Renault-Nissan has built almost one quarter of the 2m electric cars in use around the world, while Peugeot, Citroen and Renault were ranked first, second and third in a 2016 ranking by the European Environment Agency of carmakers with the lowest carbon emissions.
Other European countries are expected to follow the French and UK plans in some form or another.
For example, the Netherlands and Norway have said they want to get rid of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025, while Germany has moved to ban petrol-powered cars from sale by 2030.
The German Federal Council last year passed a non-binding resolution to only approve emission-free cars for use on the roads by 2030. This would effectively phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines from sale in 13 years' time.
ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, argued that electric and hybrid engines were not the only options for the future and that carmakers were still investing in upgrading petrol and diesel technology.
"Improving the internal combustion engine and clean diesel technology will continue to play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions," the Association said in a statement.
In its clean air plan, the French Government also proposed a ban on new oil and gas drilling on French territory, and said France will stop producing power from coal — now 5% of the total — by 2022. The country wants to reduce the proportion of its power from nuclear energy to 50% by 2025, from the current 75%.
In the UK, the air quality plan puts the burden on local authorities to tackle the causes of air pollution, and the Government said they should consider a wide range of "innovative options", so that they can deliver reduced emissions in a way that best meets the needs of their communities and local businesses.
These could include a wide range of measures such as changing road layouts at congestion and air pollution pinch points; encouraging public and private uptake of ULEVs; using innovative retrofitting technologies and new fuels; and, encouraging the use of public transport.
However, if these measures are not sufficient, local plans could include access restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones or measures to prevent certain vehicles using particular roads at particular times,
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