France is set to ban the sales of petrol and diesel powered vehicles by year 2040, a move that ecology minister Nicolas Hulot called a “revolution”, the BBC reports.

Hulot, an appointment of new French president Emmanuel Macron, announced the planned ban on fossil fuel vehicles as part of a renewed commitment to the Paris climate deal, which a Trump-led US has pulled out of. The minister added that France planned to become carbon neutral by 2050. Air pollution is a problem faced by French cities, including Paris.

That’s slightly over two decades to wean a country off engines that have been around for over a century. Currently, hybrid cars have around 3.5% share of the French auto market, with full electric vehicles accounting for just 1.2%. It’s not clear what will happen to existing petrol and diesel cars in 2040. Hulot said that poorer households would receive financial assistance to replace older vehicles with cleaner ones.

It’s a race against the clock for PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, local brands that dominate the market. Although he acknowledged it would be difficult, Hulot believes they would meet the challenge. Earlier this week, Volvo announced that all of its cars would be hybrid and above from 2019, a point referenced by the minister.

In Europe, Norway is the leader in the use of electric cars, and the Scandinavian nation wants to phase out conventional vehicles by 2025, ditto the Netherlands. Similar measures and a 2030 target have been proposed by both Germany and more ambitiously, India.

We often think of Europe’s cold, crisp air as clean (relative to our own), but the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned that air pollution is causing around 467,000 premature deaths in the continent every year.

Urban folks are at high risk, with around 85% exposed to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) at levels deemed harmful by the WHO. These ultra fine particles (less than 0.0025 mm in diameter) are too small to be detected by our eyes or nose, but can cause or aggravate heart disease, asthma and lung cancer.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) can cause or exacerbate a number of health conditions, such as inflammation of the lungs (which can trigger asthma and bronchitis) and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Diesel vehicles are the biggest contributor to high levels of NO2 in Europe.

Is this the start of a long au revoir to the car as we know it?