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09 Jun 2022, 13:29
Sören Amelang

Car lobby says EU vote on 2035 combustion engine ban will slow climate action

dpa / Clean Energy Wire

German industry groups and other car lobby organisations have said the European Parliament’s decision to back a ban of new combustion engine cars in 2035 is a blow to climate protection and consumer choice. EU parliamentarians "took a decision against citizens, against the market, against innovation and against modern technologies”, said car industry association VDA, according to a report by news agency dpa. "In large parts of Europe there is no sufficient charging infrastructure. It is therefore simply too early for such a target. It will increase costs for consumers." Europe’s largest motoring association ADAC warned that "it will not be possible to achieve the ambitious climate protection targets in transport with electric mobility alone”, adding “it would have been necessary to also open up a perspective for combustion engines that are fuelled in a climate-neutral manner”. Industry group eFuel Alliance said the vote “delivered a setback for consumers and climate protection” by opting for a “one-sided focus on electric cars and rejecting a technology mix that would embrace all climate friendly technologies”.

The European Parliament took a big step towards banning the sale of new combustion engine cars in the 27 member states in 2035 by backing the European Commission proposal to cut tailpipe emissions by 100 percent by that date, and by rejecting a loophole that would have allowed some emissions from new cars after that date. The vote implies a heavy focus on electric cars in the fight against transport emissions. Conservatives and industry groups had attempted to limit emission cuts to 90 percent and create exemptions for so-called synthetic fuels (or efuels) made with renewable hydrogen and captured CO2 over concerns the rapid transition could lead to job losses. Negotiations between the Parliament and EU member states later this year will determine the final shape of the law. The new German government had backed the Commission’s proposal in its coalition treaty, which said the EU plans meant that “Germany will have to get there earlier”.

NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) said the 2035 ban is the right step, but will come far too late. “The escalating climate crisis does not give us the time to push millions of new internal combustion cars onto Europe's roads for another 13 years, which in turn will have to rely on climate-damaging fuel for 15 years or even longer.” Greenpeace transport expert Tobias Austrup said the vote would finally put to rest “utopian hopes” that synthetic fuels could extend the lifetime of the combustion engine. The shift to electric cars will heavily impact Europe's economy, as millions of people currently earn a living by producing conventional cars and their components. Countless supplier companies depend on making parts for combustion engines that will no longer be needed in electric cars – for example spark plugs, fuel injection systems, exhaust systems, gearboxes or fuel tanks. Many of them hope that synthetic fuels can throw a lifeline to combustion engine technology.

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