The European Parliament approved a draft law that prohibits the sale of new carbon dioxide-emitting vehicles and is set to take effect in 2035.
The vote upholds a key pillar of the European Union’s plans to cut net planet-warming emissions 55 percent by 2030, from 1990 levels – a target that requires faster emissions reductions from industry, energy and transport.
Lawmakers supported a proposal, made by the European Commission last year, to require a 100 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars by 2035, which would make it impossible to sell fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the EU from that date onward.
“Fifteen percent of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from road transport. Cutting these emissions is vital if we’re going to reach our climate goals,” a group of Green Party EU lawmakers tweeted after the vote on Wednesday.
The aim is to speed Europe’s shift to electric vehicles and embolden carmakers to invest heavily in electrification, aided by another EU law that will require countries to install millions of vehicle chargers.
“Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers,” said Jan Huitema, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the policy.
Amendments tabled by conservative lawmakers aiming to avoid a full ban on vehicles with combustion engines failed to receive backing from a majority.
“The EU is steering its future transport policy on a one-way street towards e-mobility, to the detriment of technological openness, jobs and Germany as an industrial location,” Markus Ferber, a German EU lawmaker for the centre-right Christian Social Union (CSU), said in a press release.
Car industry views
Carmakers including Ford and Volvo have publicly supported the EU plan to stop combustion engine car sales by 2035, while others, including Volkswagen, aim to stop selling combustion engine cars in Europe by that date.
But emails seen by Reuters news agency show industry groups, including German auto association VDA, lobbied lawmakers to reject the 2035 target, which they said penalised alternative low-carbon fuels and was too early to commit to, given the uncertain roll-out of charging infrastructure.
“Our positions are transparent. It is our mission to develop the best solutions with everyone involved,” a VDA spokesperson said.
Electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up 18 percent of new passenger cars sold in the EU last year, although overall car sales dropped in the year amid semiconductor shortages, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
Transport produces one-quarter of Europe’s planet-heating emissions, and greenhouse gases from the sector have increased in recent years, threatening efforts to avert dangerous levels of climate change.