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France planning to eliminate diesel-powered cars

Reuters

 (Reuters)

France may be done with diesel. Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced his intention to eliminate diesel-powered passenger cars from his country’s roads, Reuters reports.

It’s part of a broader environmental effort that will include the launch next year of a pollution rating system for automobiles, which will facilitate the banning of the dirtiest cars from urban centers.

Approximately 80 percent of cars in France today run on diesel, thanks largely to a tax system that makes the fuel about 15 percent cheaper than gasoline. Most European countries have similar policies that were put into effect because diesel cars are typically more efficient than gas-powered ones, but it comes at the expense of higher smog-producing particulates and carbon emissions per gallon burned, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As the focus has shifted from reducing oil dependence to cleaning up the air, and with gasoline-powered cars closing the efficiency gap with diesel in recent years, officials have started to rethink this approach.

"In France, we have long favored the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically," Valls said.

Next year the tax on diesel will rise two cents, which should reduce consumption will taking in over a billion dollars in revenue. Meanwhile, drivers who trade their diesel cars for electric ones could get up to $13,500 in incentives to make the switch.