MEPs back 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel cars

10 June 2022

As part of a stunning series of votes on the EU’s future climate agenda and measures to fight climate change, MEPs on Wednesday backed a near-complete ban on the sale of new carbon emitting cars and light vans from 2035. 

MEPs attending the European Parliament’s full Strasbourg plenary narrowly backed and adopted the compromise reached by MEP Jan Huitema (Renew/NL) in the chamber’s Environment committee by 339 votes to 249 with 24 abstentions. 

Since its proposal by the European Commission last summer as part of its “Fit for 55” climate and energy package, the proposal for a revision of the CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles launched a storm or public opinion from citizens, business organisations, car manufacturers and NGOs. While not the driver of the EU’s overall carbon reduction policy, which remains the Emissions Trading Scheme, car emissions currently account for some 12% of all Co2 emissions in the European Union. According to the Commission, the transportation sector, which includes aviation and shipping, accounts for around a quarter of all emissions released in the EU. 

The now adopted text, which Parliament still needs to negotiate with EU Member States, mandates manufacturers to reduce their fleet-wide emissions by 100% by 2035, compared to 2021, effectively banning the internal combustion engine in new models sold after 2035. Intermediate emissions reduction targets for 2030 are be set at 55% for cars and 50% for vans. 

In a vote that was foreshadowed by MEPs’ refusal to adopt compromise positions on the reform of the EU’s carbon market, the introduction of a new carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) and the establishment of a Social Climate Fund, MEPs refused to accept last-minute amendments to water down the target to 90% by 2035. They also comprehensively voted against loopholes such as allowing for synthetic “e-fuels” or the continued sales of hybrids. They did, however, vote to include a targeted exception for small-batch luxury car manufacturers. 

With a majority of EU car-manufacturing Member States already backing a 2035 phase out of the internal combustion engine, there are no big surprises expected in the final text which is expected by September. This week’s vote on backing electric cars and other zero emissions vehicles should also bring a renewed push to the ongoing work on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) which seeks to establish binding rules on the installation of charging stations across Europe.