Today’s Solutions: June 04, 2023

The European Parliament adopted a ban on the sale of new fossil-fueled cars and light vehicles by 2035 earlier this month.

Following in the footsteps of California and New York, among other U.S. states, the European Union will now be one of the major car markets to compel a move to electric vehicles (EVs).

Victory for the planet and the people

“Today’s vote is a historic vote for the ecological transition… it is a victory for our planet and our populations,” said Karima Delli, chair of the transport committee, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The decision on 14 February formalizes an agreement struck between the European Parliament and the European Council in October 2022 as part of the “Fit for 55” aim of lowering EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030.

In turn, the 2030 aim contributes to the EU’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. According to the European Parliament and Reuters, the wording will still need to be formally approved by the Council, which is expected to happen in March.

In addition to the 2035 target, the rule requires that new cars sold in the EU lower emissions to 55 percent of 2021 levels by 2030, and vans reduce emissions by 50 percent by the same year, according to a press statement from the European Parliament.

“These targets create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers,” Rapporteur and Dutch Member of European Parliament (MEP) Jan Huitema said in the press release. “Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers and a second-hand market will emerge more quickly. It makes sustainable driving accessible to everyone.”

The bill was approved by a vote of 340 to 279, with 21 abstentions. Advocates underline the significance of taking action to cut emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of the climate catastrophe, as well as maintaining the EU’s competitiveness as the global automotive market electrifies.

On the other hand, some MEPs expressed worry that shifting away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles too soon could affect automotive employees.

The EV movement accelerates

According to The New York Times, Ford Motor announced that it would reduce its European staff by roughly 11 percent over the next few years as it refocuses its operations on EVs. 

Major European automobile manufacturers have joined the EV bandwagon, too. According to Reuters, VW CEO Thomas Schaefer declared in 2022 that his business would only develop EVs in Europe beginning in 2033. Due to industry opposition, the final bill allows automakers producing less than 10,000 vehicles per year to negotiate for lower emissions reduction targets through 2036.

The new law does not apply to larger vehicles such as lorries and buses, but the European Commission announced new standards for cutting emissions from these vehicles, as reported by AFP. According to the proposal:

  • By 2030, city buses would be emission-free.
  • By 2030, new vehicles would reduce emissions by 45 percent compared to 2019.
  • By 2035, new vehicles would reduce emissions by 65 percent compared to 2019.
  • By 2040, new vehicles would reduce emissions by 90 percent compared to 2019.
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