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France aims to end sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040

The French government has set out an ambitious goal for no more petrol or diesel cars to be sold in the country by 2040.

The target was announced by environment minister Nicolas Hulot as part of far-reaching efforts to wean the world's sixth biggest economy off fossil fuels.

At a news conference unveiling a five-year government plan to encourage clean energy and meet France's commitments under the Paris climate accord, Mr Hulot said French car manufacturers have projects that "can fulfil that promise".

His appeal came a day after Sweden's Volvo became the first major carmaker to pledge to stop making cars powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

France is unusually dependent on diesel fuel, blamed for pollution that often chokes the French capital. The Paris mayor wants to ban diesel vehicles by 2020.

Mr Hulot's plan would cover the whole country and also target petrol cars, but it could face resistance from manufacturers and drivers. He proposed aid for poorer families to buy cleaner vehicles.

The maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, PSA Group, said the environment minister's pledge fits with its goal of offering hybrid or electric versions of 80% of its cars by 2023.

But even if France eventually bans sales of diesel and petrol vehicles, PSA spokeswoman Laure de Servigny said the company will continue making such cars for foreign markets.

"We are a global player," she said. "You have to take into account the situation globally."

Mr Hulot also said that 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%.

The government's plan aims to encourage green energy and technologies, notably through taxing polluting ones. It also proposes a ban on new oil and gas drilling on French territory.

AP

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