EU clean car plans don’t go far enough, critics say

The EU has presented its plans to decarbonise the automotive industry in Europe and the European Parliament has pledged to end all sales of internal combustion vehicles on the continent by 2035.

Automakers will have to reduce CO2 emissions from their fleets by 20% (compared to 2021 levels), reaching 50% by 2030. By 2035, automakers will have to reach 100%.

Critics of the EU plans say the new rules don’t go far enough. According to environmental think tank Transport & Environment (T&E), the absence of both an interim 2027 target and a tougher 2030 target means electric car prices will take longer to come down.

Alex Keynes, Head of Clean Vehicles at T&E, said: “EU clean car rules are driving down the costs of electric vehicles. [EV] that we need to decarbonise cars and achieve our climate goals. But the EV boom will falter over the next 10 years unless lawmakers step in with an intermediate target in 2027 and a more ambitious target in 2030. Without it, Europe might not sell enough cars to zero emissions to achieve its own 2030 targets as well as those of many EU countries.

BUEC, the European Union‘s consumer watchdog, gave the plans a cautious welcome but said they were “good, not great”.

Monique Goyens, chief executive of BEUC, said tougher legislation would lead to increased sales of electric vehicles, which would trickle down to second-hand markets, putting electric motoring within the financial reach of more people. of drivers. “Electric driving can significantly reduce driving costs, which is even more important in times of stratospheric fuel costs. Used and third-hand owners, in particular, can save money by switching to the electric because they bear less depreciation of the car and benefit from low maintenance and running costs,” she said.

“The sooner these cars hit the used market, the sooner consumers will save money. CO2 emission reduction targets are driving the auto industry to bring electric cars to showrooms, creating thus this indispensable second-hand market,” said Goyens.

Battery vehicles

BUEC echoed T&E’s call for an interim target of 2027, saying it would give automakers continued incentives to bring electric cars to market.

According to T&E, however, an environmental victory has been won. Plans to include a loophole in legislation to allow ‘e-fuels’ – synthetic fuels made by removing carbon from the air and mixing it with hydrogen, creating a theoretically carbon-neutral gasoline – have been rejected.

“Electric fuels have been touted by the fossil fuel industry as a way to extend internal combustion engine life beyond decarbonization timelines. But tests show that burning synthetic fuels will still pump emissions toxic NOx in the air, while running a car on electric fuel is much more expensive than an electric vehicle. Producing e-fuels is also much less efficient than powering a battery-powered electric car,” said Keynes from T&E.

“Battery electric vehicles offer drivers the cleanest, most efficient and affordable way to decarbonise, while synthetic fuels in cars would give new life to old polluting engines. Parliament must keep the door closed to what would be a costly and inefficient diversion from the EU’s race to net zero.

Under the proposals, van makers would be required to cut average emissions from new vehicles by 15% in 2025 and 50% in 2030, MEPs said. All new vans in 2035 should be zero emissions, they said. Today, cars account for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and vans for 2%.

There is one month left to have the current proposals amended; the European Parliament will vote at the beginning of June on the adoption of the objectives in the law. This will be followed by lengthy negotiations with individual governments regarding implementation at the national level.

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