EU Parliament Approves Combustion Engine Ban From 2035


By Jonathan Packroff

(EurActiv) — EU lawmakers in the European Parliament narrowly voted on Tuesday (14 February) in favour of phasing out internal combustion vehicles in passenger transport from 2035, ensuring the political compromise from October 2022 is now a legal reality.

New cars and vans will not be allowed to release emissions from 2035, according to the European Parliament, where 340 of 640 MEPs voted in favour of a deal reached between Dutch Renew MEP Jan Huitema, the member states, and the Commission in October.

“I am very pleased that the European Parliament has today approved the agreement reached in the trilogue on CO2 standards for cars and vans,” Huitema said after the vote.

The “targets provide clarity for the automotive industry and stimulate innovation and investment by car manufacturers”, Huitema added.

In other words, the registration of new petrol and diesel cars will not be allowed in the EU from 2035 onwards.

Though CO2 emissions are typically measured at the exhaust pipe – which is why climate-neutral fuels are not taken into account – the German government, pressured by the liberal FDP party, ensured the new law includes a non-binding recital clause that could open a back door for vehicles powered by e-fuels with internal combustion engines.

“Climate neutrality in mobility can also be achieved with e-fuels in the combustion engine in the existing fleet, in new cars as well as in trucks and buses,” FDP leader Christian Lindner, whose party is part of the German coalition government, wrote on Twitter.

“This technology option must be preserved,” Lindner continued.

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s climate boss, warned against too much optimism, however. “Review clauses are part of any European law,” he wrote in a guest article for EURACTIV in December.

“This review will be about how we achieve the 2035 target, not whether we want to achieve it,” Timmermans continued.

The ban was also approved by EU member states, so there is nothing standing in the way of the law.

Conservatives against the deal

Opponents of the compromise deal included MEPs from the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest political group in Parliament, where the CDU/CSU set the tone. They said it violates the principle of “tech neutrality”.

“The ban on the combustion engine does very little for the climate and harms industry in our region,” said CDU MEP Peter Liese, echoing a common concern voiced by the car industry.

The ban on combustion engines would contribute “only 60 million tonnes of CO2 reduction” to the climate target for 2030, the conservative politician stressed.

According to him, extending the EU emissions trading scheme to passenger transport is more important for the climate.

“The European Emissions Trading Scheme, for which I am in charge and for which we reached a comprehensive agreement before Christmas, brings 1,500 million tonnes of CO2 savings, 25 times as much,” Liese continued.

Trucks are next

The law covers cars and vans but misses out on heavy commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses, which are to be treated separately.

The European Commission will present its proposal on this on Tuesday afternoon. According to the French portal Contexte, the Commission will not propose a de facto ban on the combustion engine but only a reduction of CO2 emissions for new trucks by 90% by 2040.

This would be a defeat for Timmermans, who had fought for 100% climate-neutral trucks from 2040.

Environmental organisations previously called for the 2035 phase-out date to be applied to trucks too, while the automotive and logistics industries have warned against such a move.


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