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New cars sold in EU must be zero-emission from 2030

An electric car. New cars will have to be zero-emissions in EU from 2035. PHOTO/FILE


EU member states have approved a “landmark law” requiring all new cars sold in the bloc to be zero-emissions from 2035, BBC News reports.

It says the deal was “delayed for weeks after Germany called for an exemption for cars running on e-fuels”.

It adds: “The new law had been expected to make it impossible to sell internal combustion engine cars in the EU from 2035. However, the exemption won by Germany will now help those with traditional vehicles – even though e-fuels are not yet produced at scale.”

Reuters reports that the approval of the law, which will now enter into force, means all new cars will have to be zero-emissions from 2035 and 55% lower carbon dioxide emissions from 2030, relative to 2021 levels. 

EurActiv says the deal finalises “one of the most controversial elements of the EU’s Green Deal”. It adds: “The vote ensures that currently dominant combustion engine technology will be replaced mainly with electric vehicles in the coming decades, slashing the carbon footprint of Europe’s roads.” 

Politico also has the story, noting that the exemption for e-fuels “will still have to be approved by the EU institutions”. It adds: “In addition to setting the 2035 clean car target, the legislation raises the interim 2030 emissions reduction target, which will force automakers to ramp up the sale of electric vehicles over the coming few years.”

Politico calls the e-fuels carve-out a “pyrrhic victory in the war to save the car engine”. It says there are doubts over the separate legislation needed to deliver the exemption. Reuters says the deal “throws ignition cars a thin lifeline”.

It reports: “Cost and energy scarcity suggest e-fuels may be best used in sectors that are harder to convert to electric engines, like trucks, shipping or planes. They may also have a small role in passenger cars.”

Pointing to luxury brands Ferrari and Porsche, it says “affluent clients will be able to afford the higher cost”, adding: “For mass-market brands, electric cars will likely remain the cheapest option.”

The Daily Telegraph says a looming British ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars was thrown into chaos on Tuesday after Brussels watered down its own restrictions amid opposition from the German auto industry.

Experts and politicians warned that British rules due to take effect in 2030 are untenable following the European climbdown, which will allow internal combustion engines as long as they burn carbon-neutral petrol alternatives.

The paper adds: “Sources suggested that Whitehall was considering following the [European] Commission’s lead by also allowing an e-fuel exemption.”

The article, saying “critics of the government’s net-zero plans seized on the European Union’s decision as evidence that a total policy rethink is needed”, quotes a number of Eurosceptic and climate sceptic Conservative MPs, who say the UK should follow the EU’s lead, including former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, Philip Davies of the niche Tory “net-zero scrutiny group” and former cabinet minister John Redwood.

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