The European Parliament has given its formal approval to new vehicle emissions standards that would effectively ban the widespread sale of internal combustion engine cars and vans in the bloc of 27 countries by 2035, the organization announced today. Three hundred and forty members voted in favor of the rules, against 279, and 21 abstained. An initial agreement on the new rules was reached last October, requiring all cars and vans sold in the EU to be zero CO2 emissions by the middle of the next decade.
The rules have a few more stages to go through before they become law. They must be formally endorsed by the Council of the EU and published in the Official Journal of the EU. But Reuters notes that final approval is expected to be given in March, which means that the world’s largest trading bloc and home to major automakers, including Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, will soon be officially on track to almost completely phase out internal combustion engine vehicles to phase out.
The proposed rules are part of the EU’s “Fit for 55” project, which aims to cut emissions across the bloc by 55 percent by 2030. Bloomberg notes that road transport is currently responsible for around a fifth of the EU’s emissions, meaning that reducing it will be key if the bloc is to become carbon neutral by 2050.
The EU rules also call for a 55 percent reduction in car emissions by 2030 compared to 2021 levels, which is greater than the 37.5 percent reduction that Reuters notes was previously planned. However, there are exemptions for manufacturers producing fewer than 10,000 cars or 22,000 vans annually. Similar plans have also been announced for trucks and buses calling for their emissions to be cut by 90 percent by 2040, Bloomberg reports.
“These targets create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investment for car manufacturers,” said Dutch politician Jan Huitema, who negotiated the deal on behalf of the European Parliament. “Buying and driving emission-free cars will become cheaper for consumers and a second-hand market will emerge more quickly. It makes sustainable driving accessible to everyone.”