France to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040

France has announced it will ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, as part of plans to make the country carbon-neutral.

The proposed ban on fossil-fuel-powered vehicles was announced by the country's new environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, at a press conference on Thursday. It will mean only electric cars or those using alternative fuels will be sold in the country from 2040.

Hulot, who is a long-time environmental campaigner and was brought on board by newly elected president Emmanuel Macron, said the move would help France achieve its plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

His announcement follows the news that Volvo will only make electric and hybrid vehicles as of 2019, and comes as G20 members – including US president Donald Trump, a climate-change sceptic – meet in Germany for the annual summit.

The summit is expected to see world leaders discuss climate change as a priority, after President Trump decided to to withdraw the US from the Paris climate change agreement in June.

Macron has been a vocal critic of this decision, and Hulot made a point of this in his speech, stating "France has decided to become carbon-neutral by 2050 following the US decision."

The former journalist also said that lower-income households will receive financial help when replacing their fossil-fuel-powered vehicles with electric ones.

"The government will offer each French person a bonus to replace their diesel car dating before 1997 or petrol from before 2001 by a new or second-hand vehicle," he said.

Hulot also referenced Volvo's plans in his speech, and suggested that French car manufacturers, such as Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, would follow suit.

Up until now, it has largely been Tesla and German car brands – including BMWMercedes-Benz and Volkswagen – leading the race towards battery-powered vehicles.

BMW launched its first fully electric production car, called the BMW i3, in 2013, while Audi unveiled an all-electric version of its R8 supercar, the Audi R8 e-tron, in 2015.

Other announcements made at the press conference included a commitment to stopping the use of coal-powered electricity by 2022, as well as a pledge to invest up to €4 billion (£3.5 billion) into energy efficiency.

These measures are all part of the country's five-year plan that aims to fulfil France's commitments under the Paris Agreement.

France is not the only country which aims to ban the internal combustion engine from its roads. The Netherlands and Norway previously said they wanted to get rid of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025, and Germany has moved to ban petrol-powered cars from sale by 2030, providing a window into potential future regulations across the European Union.