Cars against EU flag

EU approves 2035 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars

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The European Parliament has formally approved a law to effectively ban new sales of carbon-emitting petrol and diesel cars by 2035, as part of its push for electric vehicles (EVs).

The ban on new petrol car sales will now be formally made into law at an upcoming ministerial meeting, despite opposition from conservative MEPs, the parliament's biggest group.

The landmark rules require that by 2035 carmakers achieve a 100 per cent cut in CO2 emissions from new cars sold, which would make it impossible to sell new fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the 27-country bloc.

The law also set a 55 per cent cut in CO2 emissions for new cars sold from 2030 compared to 2021 levels, raising the existing target of a 37.5 per cent decrease.

The law passed the Strasbourg assembly by 340 votes to 279, with 21 abstentions. The legislation is a vital part of the EU's target of achieving net zero by 2050 and supporting the production of electric vehicles.

Moreover, supporters of the bill had argued that the law would give European carmakers a clear timeframe in which to switch production to EVs. 

"Today's vote is a historic vote for the ecological transition," said Karima Delli, president of the transport committee. "We will no longer, or almost no longer, have petrol or diesel cars on our roads in 2050. It is a victory for our planet and our populations"

The agreement was reached in October last year, but it needed to be confirmed by a parliamentary vote. 

This move has been considered a direct response to the fear that many EU-based companies would relocate to the US in order to obtain access to the Biden administration’s $369bn (£302bn) scheme to subsidise green production.

Moreover, the bloc is also aiming to reduce its reliance on Chinese manufacturing. The Asian giant has declared it wants half of all cars bought in China to be electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-powered by 2035. 

"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," said EU vice president Frans Timmermans. 

"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."

However, opponents argued that neither European industry nor many private motorists are ready for such a dramatic change in production, which they said would risk thousands of jobs. 

"Our proposal is to let the market decide what technology is best to reach our goals," said MEP Jens Gieseke, a member of the centre-right European People's Party.

In order to alleviate some of these concerns, the EU has agreed to include some flexibility in the law. As a result, small carmakers producing less than 10,000 vehicles per year can negotiate weaker targets until 2036.

Currently, cars account for about 15 per cent of all CO2 emissions in the EU, while transportation overall accounts for around a quarter.

The EU rules trail similar measures put in place by the UK, which announced in 2020 that a ban on new diesel and petrol cars would be instituted by 2030.

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