Climate Conscious
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Climate Conscious

European Union Will Ban Fossil-Fuel Cars in 2035

New law pushes car manufacturers to make emission-free cars more accessible for consumers

On June 8th, the European Parliament approved a bill which requires new vehicles sold as of 2035 to be 100% carbon-emission free, effectively banning the sale of gasoline, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas cars.

The transport sector is responsible for 16.2% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and road transport is by far the most emission heavy subsector. In the European Union (EU), road transport alone represented 72% of all transport emissions by 2019. With the sector’s activity expected to rebound post-pandemic, the EU needs to reduce its emissions if it intends to fulfill the commitments made in the Paris Agreement.

One way to cut down on emissions is to decrease the number of fossil fuel-based cars on the roads. With electric vehicles representing 10.5% of the market share within the EU and a growth rate of roughly 15%, in 2020, the bloc has built some momentum in this direction.

Seeking to bolster this trend, the European Commission proposed a bill last year requiring all new vehicles sold as of 2035 to be 100% carbon-emission free — effectively limiting future sales to all-electric vehicles. The proposal was part of the Fit for Fifty-five climate legislative package, which aimed to reduce GHG by 55% before the end of 2030, and it was approved in parliament with 339 votes in favor and 249 against — plus 24 abstentions.

The premise of the bill is that car makers will be pushed to develop more advanced and more accessible models, if they want to keep selling in the EU market. “Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers” said Jan Huitema of the Renew Europe Group — the lead negotiator on the proposal.

Not everyone agrees with this sentiment though. Those against the bill believe it will harm consumers by restricting their choices and limit the progress being made with hybrid vehicles.

In fact, there were some attempts to alter the proposal within the parliament. For example, the conservative European People’s Party — which holds the majority in the EU Parliament — sought to amend the bill to potentially allow the sales of hybrid vehicles or those based on synthetic fuels (e-fuels). On the opposite end, the Greens wanted to push the deadline forward to 2030.

All of these amendments were eventually rejected, though, without compromising the final vote.

The same cannot be said for three other climate bills which were shut down in a domino effect, due to last minute disagreements among political groups. In the same Wednesday session the parliament rejected the Emissions Trading System reform bill, the establishment of a Social Climate Fund and the proposal o a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, a tax on polluting imports.

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Gil Pires

Gil Pires

Junior Consultant | MSc in Biotechnology