EU approves phasing out polluting cars and vans by 2035

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EU environment ministers agreed on Tuesday (March 28) to phase out combustion engine cars by 2035, concluding a contentious step in negotiations with Germany.

The deal will ban the sale of carbon-emitting cars after 2035 and will require automakers to reduce their CO2 emissions by 55% between 2030 and 2034 compared to 2021.

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“The direction is clear: in 2035, new cars and vans must be zero emissions. This makes a big contribution to climate neutrality by 2050 and is a key part of the EU Green Deal,” the commissioner tweeted. European to the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, who welcomed the vote.

Only Poland rejected the settlement outright. Italy, Bulgaria and Romania abstained. Italy wanted biofuels included in the final text, but the European Commission rejected it.

Some sports cars are exempt from meeting the previous target and may be allowed to run on electric fuels following pressure from Germany, which has threatened to reject the proposal.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s vote, Germany had called for e-fuels to be included as a zero-emission fuel. E-fuels are synthetic hydrogen-based fuels that do not emit greenhouse gases if produced from solar or wind energy. But e-fuels are not yet readily available, more expensive and much less efficient than electric vehicles.

“The end of the combustion engine has been passed. Now the commission can now sweat creating something for e-fuels that will only be used by Porsche and possibly Ferrari,” Greens MEP Bas Eickhout tweeted.

Although Germany got a mention of e-fuels in the final text, it is up to the Commission to propose a separate delegated act detailing how e-fuels can be taken into account in emission reduction targets. Delegated acts bypass a parliamentary vote. However, parliament can reject a delegated act outright, making its adoption uncertain.

“I am happy that the Council of the EU has finally approved the agreement on CO2 standards for cars and vans,” said Renew MEP and rapporteur on the dossier, Jan Huitema, after the vote. “All possible future proposals concerning the use of e-fuels will be carefully assessed, both in terms of their content and their legal basis.


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