Mr Hulot said that he realised the target would put France's auto manufacturers under pressure - but that the companies had projects which "can fulfil that promise". On Wednesday, Swedish automaker Volvo announced the company would be doing away with gas engines by 2019, phasing in hybrid and electric alternatives - the first major automaker to do so. Hulot also said France would stop using coal-burning power plants by 2022; they now account for about five percent of the country's electrical power needs.
Hulot made the announcement Thursday in Paris as he launched the country's new Climate Plan to accelerate the transition to clean energy and to meet its targets under the Paris climate agreement. In January, Ford Motor Co. said it would add hybrid versions of its most iconic offerings by 2020, including the F-150 pickup truck and the Mustang sports vehicle.
Hulot, a veteran environmental campaigner, was appointed by new French President Emmanuel Macron, who in his capacity as president openly criticised U.S. environmental policy, urging Donald Trump to "make our planet great again".
While trying to drive change in the U.S., Musk could also be looking to get more involved in countries like France, who boast the top 3 European vehicle manufacturers with the lowest carbon emissions in Peugeot, Citroen and Renault.
"We are announcing an end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040", Hulot said, adding that it would be a "veritable revolution".
Hulot called the Trump administration's stance on the issue a "brutal attitude" but indicated there were still American partners, like non-governmental organizations, France could work with on climate issues.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris pact saying it would be unfair to American businesses and too expensive for taxpayers. While one man continues to try and destroy the world, it's quite heartening to see so many countries take the threat of climate change seriously.
At that point, Europe will be by far the biggest market for electric vehicles, with 67 percent, compared to 58 percent in the USA and 51 percent in China, the report found.