On Wednesday, the European Parliament backed a proposal to phase out the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines by 2035 to speed up the development of electric vehicles and combat climate change.
In Strasbourg, France, the European Union assembly agreed to mandate automakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100 percent by the middle of the next decade. The regulation would effectively ban the sale of new gasoline or diesel cars in the EU’s 27 member nations.
In addition, EU legislators agreed to a 55 percent decrease in CO2 emissions from autos in 2030 compared to 2021. The action strengthens an existing requirement for the automobile industry to reduce CO2 emissions by 37.5 percent on average by the end of the decade compared to the previous year.
Environmentalists applauded the legislature’s actions. The vote gave “a fighting chance of mitigating runaway climate change,” said Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based group.
However, the VDA, a German auto industry lobby group, slammed the vote, claiming that it overlooked Europe’s lack of charging infrastructure. The group also argued that the referendum was “a vote against innovation and technology,” referring to business demands that synthetic fuels be exempted from the ban, which European legislators rejected.
The 2035 deadline, if agreed by EU members, will be especially difficult for German carmakers, who have focused on strong and expensive combustion engines while lagging behind foreign competitors when it comes to electric cars.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, recommended the 2030 CO2-reduction target and a 2035 combustion engine ban last year. Cars are responsible for about 12% of European greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change and are implicated in more frequent and powerful heat waves, storms, and floods.
Before a final EU agreement on stricter car emission regulations is ratified, the governments of EU member nations must provide their verdicts in the upcoming weeks or months.
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The EU wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990, rather than the previously agreed-upon 40 percent.
Power plants and manufacturing would account for a large percentage of the reductions. Unlike cars, these two industries have limited greenhouse gas emissions in the EU through an emissions-trading scheme that minimizes the overall supply of necessary pollution permits every year.
The EU parliament failed to approve that element of the climate package earlier Wednesday due to a disagreement over the rate at which free allocation of some pollution permits — rather than auctioning them — should be phased out.
The assembly’s environment committee was requested to reopen the debate on the issue. As a result, the EU parliament’s decisions on two related measures have been postponed.
One is the development of a Social Climate Fund to assist low-income households with the projected clean-energy overhaul. This subject has become more politically delicate as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has elevated fuel prices.
The second is the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, a one-of-a-kind import tax. The projected CBAM is a one-of-a-kind mechanism that would allow the EU to raise the prices of some imported items — such as steel and aluminum — that are exempt from the EU’s climate-protection charges.