BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Parliament on Wednesday backed a proposed ban on sales of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035 in a bid to step up the fight against climate change by accelerating the development of electric vehicles.
The European Union Assembly in Strasbourg, France, decided to oblige automakers to cut carbon emissions by 100% by the middle of the next decade. The mandate would amount to a ban on the sale of new gasoline or diesel cars in the 27-state bloc.
EU lawmakers also endorsed a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions from cars by 2030 compared to 2021. The move deepens an existing commitment by the auto industry to increase CO2 emissions by an average of 37.5% year-on-year at the end of the decade reduce.
Environmentalists welcomed Parliament’s decisions. Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based alliance, said the vote offered “a combative chance to avert runaway climate change.”
But the German auto industry lobby group VDA criticized the vote, saying it ignores the lack of charging infrastructure in Europe. The group also said the vote was on “A decision against innovation and technology” a reference to industry calls to exempt synthetic fuels from the ban, which European lawmakers opposed.
If approved by EU states, the 2035 deadline will be particularly tough for German automakers, which have focused on high-performance and expensive internal combustion engine vehicles while falling behind foreign competitors on electric cars.
The CO2 reduction target by 2030 and the ban on internal combustion engines by 2035 were proposed last year by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch. Cars are responsible for around 12% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for increasingly frequent and intense climate change-related heat waves, storms and floods.
EU member state governments will have to make their decision in the coming weeks or months before approving a final EU deal on tougher car emissions regulations.
The car law is under scrutiny as part of a package of draft EU climate legislation covering a range of other polluting industries.
The EU plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, instead of just the previously agreed 40% over the period.
A large part of the cuts would come from power plants and factories. These two sectors, unlike cars in the EU, are curbed in greenhouse gases by a European Emissions Trading Scheme that reduces the total supply of required pollution allowances each year.
The EU Parliament failed to move forward with this part of the climate package earlier on Wednesday because of disagreements over the pace at which the free allocation of some emissions allowances – as opposed to their auctioning – should be phased out.
The Assembly asked its Environment Committee to resume deliberations on the subject. As a result, the EU Parliament also delayed its decisions on two related initiatives.
One is the establishment of a social climate fund to help vulnerable households navigate the planned clean energy transition – an issue that has become more politically sensitive as Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed up fuel prices.
The second is an unprecedented import tax known as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The proposed CBAM is a unique tool that would allow the EU to raise the prices of some imported goods – including steel and aluminum – that save bloc-based manufacturers climate protection costs.
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