Goodbye petrol cars? EU lawmakers vote to ban new sales from 2035

Traffic in Paris, France on 12 May 2020. The European Parliament now supports the European Commission’s goal of reducing emissions from new cars and vans by 100% by 2035.

Ludovico Marin | AFP | Getty Images

European lawmakers voted to ban the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars and vans in the EU starting in 2035, representing a significant blow in the arm for the region’s ambitious ecological goals.

On Wednesday, 339 MEPs in the European Parliament voted in favor of the plans, which had been proposed by the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU. There were 249 votes against the proposal, while 24 deputies abstained.

The European Union is getting even closer to its goal of reducing emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 100% in 2035 compared to 2021. By 2030, the goal is a 50% reduction in emissions for vans and trucks. 55% for machines.

The Commission has previously stated that cars and vans account for around 12% and 2.5% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions. MEPs will now engage in negotiations on the plans with the bloc’s 27 member states.

The UK, meanwhile, wants to stop selling new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2030. It will require all new cars and vans to have zero tailpipe emissions from 2035. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

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Dutch MEP Jan Huitema, who is part of the Renew Europe group, welcomed the result of Wednesday’s vote. “I am thrilled that the European Parliament has supported an ambitious revision of the 2030 targets and supported a 100% target for 2035, which is key to achieving climate neutrality by 2050,” he said.

Other comments on the news included Alex Keynes, head of clean vehicles at the Brussels-based Transport & Environment campaign group. “The deadline means that the last fossil-fueled cars will be sold by 2035, giving us a chance to fight uncontrolled climate change,” Keynes said.

He also said the plans provide the auto industry with the certainty it needed to “increase production of electric vehicles, which will bring down prices for drivers.”

For its part, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said it was “concerned that MEPs voted to set a target of -100% CO2 for 2035”.

Oliver Zipse, who is the president of ACEA and CEO of BMWhe said his industry was “in the midst of a broad push for electric vehicles, with new models constantly arriving.”

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

The EU has said it wants to become carbon neutral by 2050. In the medium term, it wants to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, what the EU calls its “Fit for 55” plan.

Implementing this plan was not entirely straightforward. The news about cars and vans came after MEPs rejected a review of the EU’s Emissions Trading System, or ETS.

In a press release on Thursday, the European Parliament said three bills in the Fit for 55 package were now “suspended pending a political agreement”.

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