French families encouraged to switch to electric cars with new subsidies
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The French government is in the process of planning a rollout of new incentives and taxes to stimulate the replacement of petrol and diesel vehicles, as well as increasing the use of energy-saving insulation in houses and hiking the carbon tax.
The proposals were announced by the environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot in the national daily newspaper, Libération.
The upcoming budget, he said, will cover a series of measures to limit carbon emissions in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement, reduce pollution and give a boost to low-income families.
At present, low-income families in France have access to a €500-1000 incentive to switch to less polluting vehicles such as electric or hybrid cars. If Hulot’s proposals are accepted, these incentives will be available to all citizens with pre-1997 petrol engines and pre-2001 diesel engines from 2018. The sum for low-income families will double to €2000.
Of the three million cars in France included in these criteria, Hulot hopes that 100,000 could be replaced next year with new or second-hand vehicles that emit less carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
Car owners who choose to go electric will receive a meatier €2500 incentive, with a €6000 subsidy if the measure gains approval.
In addition to providing more generous support for families switching to low-emission vehicles, Hulot will also propose credits for housing insulation which become a premium to be paid immediately after the installation is complete. These could become available from 2019, and are meant to help low-income families meet the up-front cost of installing insulation.
Subsidies of up to €3000 will also be offered to low-income families who switch from ageing diesel fuel heating systems to newer, cleaner alternatives, such as wood-fired heaters or heat pumps.
President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious plans to reduce bureaucracy in the construction industry have raised concerns that insulation requirements for new buildings could be loosened, although Hulot has denied this will be the case.
“The president has told me that current environmental requirements will not be affected […] from a social point of view the worst that we could do would be to deliver housing that is not energy efficient,” he said.
While French families could benefit from these more generous subsidies, the government will also push harder on businesses to go green, with the country’s carbon tax rising from €30.50/tonne to €44.60/tonne in 2018, rising to €100/tonne by 2030, as intended in the 2015 energy transition bill.
The French government has pledged to phase out all oil and gas production by 2040 and make the country entirely carbon neutral by 2050.