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EU Parliament bans new petrol and diesel cars by 2035

EU Parliament bans new petrol and diesel cars by 2035
Photo of Jan Huitema at the Fit for 55 Plenary session courtesy of the European Union

In a plenary vote last Wednesday, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Part of the “Fit for 55 in 2030” package, the revised CO2 emissions standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, received 339 votes in favour, 249 against and 24 abstentions.

“An ambitious revision of CO2-standards is a crucial part of reaching our climate targets. With these standards, we are creating clarity for the car industry and can stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers. In addition, purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers. I am thrilled that the European Parliament has backed an ambitious revision of the targets for 2030 and supported a 100% target for 2035, which is crucial to reach climate neutrality by 2050,” said Rapporteur Jan Huitema (Renew, NL).

While the measure must still be debated by the European Council before it becomes law, the parliamentary vote is a crucial step in the process. 

With the adopted text, which constitutes the European Parliament’s position to negotiate with member states, MEPs supported the Commission’s proposal to reach zero-emission road mobility by 2035 (an EU fleet-wide target to reduce the emissions produced by new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 100% compared to 2021). Intermediate emissions reduction targets for 2030 would be set at 55% for cars and 50% for vans.

Cars currently account for 12% of all CO2 emissions in the 27-member EU bloc, while transportation overall accounts for around a quarter.

Electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up 18% of new passenger cars sold in the EU last year.

“The automobile industry will fully contribute to the goal of a carbon-neutral Europe in 2050. Our industry is in the midst of a wide push for electric vehicles, with new models arriving steadily. These are meeting customers’ demands and are driving the transition towards sustainable mobility,” said Oliver Zipse, president of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) and CEO of BMW.

“But given the volatility and uncertainty we are experiencing globally day-by-day, any long-term regulation going beyond this decade is premature at this early stage. Instead, a transparent review is needed halfway in order to define post-2030 targets.”

On 14 July 2021, as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, the Commission presented a legislative proposal for a revision of the CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The proposal aims to contribute to the EU 2030 and 2050 climate objectives, to deliver benefits to citizens by deploying zero-emission vehicles more broadly (better air quality, energy savings and lower costs for owning a vehicle), as well as to stimulate innovation in zero-emission technologies.

On May 11, 2022, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its position on proposed rules to revise the CO2 emission performance standards for new cars and vans in line with the EU’s increased climate ambition. In the report, MEPs expressed their support for the Commission proposal to reach zero-emission road mobility by 2035. The proposed measures include:

  • removing the incentive mechanism for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV), as it no longer serves its original purpose;
  • a report by the Commission on the progress towards zero-emission road mobility by the end of 2025 and on a yearly basis thereafter, covering the impact on consumers and employment, the level of renewable energy use as well as information on the market for second-hand vehicles;
  • gradually reducing the cap for eco-innovation, in line with the proposed stricter targets (the existing 7g CO2/km limit should remain until 2024, followed by 5g from 2025, 4g from 2027 and 2g until the end of 2034);
  • a report by the Commission, by the end of 2023, detailing the need for targeted funding to ensure a just transition in the automotive sector, to mitigate negative employment and other economic impacts;
  • a common EU methodology by the Commission, by 2023, for assessing the full life cycle of CO2 emissions of cars and vans placed on the EU market, as well as for the fuels and energy consumed by these vehicles.