EU Approves Ban on New Gas or Diesel Cars by 2035
“Today’s vote is a historic vote for the ecological transition… it is a victory for our planet and our populations,” transport committee chair Karima Delli said, as AFP reported.
Tuesday’s vote formalizes an agreement reached in October 2022 between the European Parliament and European Council as part of the “Fit for 55” target of reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030. The 2030 target, in turn, is building towards the EU’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The text will still need to be formally endorsed by the Council, likely in March, according to the European Parliament and Reuters.
In addition to the 2035 deadline, the law also mandates that new cars sold in the EU cut their emissions to 55 percent of 2021 levels by 2030 and that vans reduce them by 50 percent by the same date, according to a European Parliament press release.
“These targets create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers,” Rapporteur and Dutch Member of European Parliament (MEP) Jan Huitema said in the press release. “Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers and a second-hand market will emerge more quickly. It makes sustainable driving accessible to everyone.”
The measure passed 340 to 279 with 21 abstaining. Supporters emphasize the importance of acting to reduce emissions to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, as well as keeping the EU competitive as the global automotive market electrifies.
“Let me remind you that between last year and the end of this year China will bring 80 models of electric cars to the international market,” EU vice president Frans Timmermans told MEPs, as AFP reported. “These are good cars. These are cars that will be more and more affordable, and we need to compete with that. We don’t want to give up this essential industry to outsiders.”
On the other side of the issue, some MEPs expressed concerns that switching too quickly away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles could harm automotive workers.
“In Germany 600,000 people work on ICE production, those jobs are at risk,” MEP Jens Gieseke of the center-right European People’s Party said, as AFP reported.
Ford Motor did announce on Tuesday that it would reduce its European workforce by around 11 percent over the next few years as it recenters its business around EVs, as The New York Times reported. However, major European carmakers have jumped on the EV bandwagon. In 2022, Volkswagen chief executive Thomas Schaefer announced that his company would only build EVs in Europe starting in 2033, as Reuters reported. Because of some industry pushback, the final law did allow automakers producing fewer than 10,000 vehicles annually to negotiate for weaker emissions reduction goals through 2036.
The new law does not cover larger vehicles like trucks and buses, but on Tuesday the European Commission also proposed new rules for reducing emissions from these vehicles, as AFP reported. Under the proposal:
- City buses would be emission-free by 2030.
- New trucks would curb emissions by 45 percent of 2019 levels by 2030.
- New trucks would curb emissions by 65 percent of 2019 levels by 2035.
- New trucks would curb emissions by 90 percent of 2019 levels by 2040.