European Union Votes to Abolish CO2-Emitting Cars by 2035; Germany Offers Exceptions for E-Fuels

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CO2-Emitting Cars
The new law will mandate that all cars sold from 2030 onward must have 55 percent lower CO2 admissions when compared to 2021 levels, and zero CO2 emissions altogether starting in 2035.  File photo: Ody_Stocker, Shutter Stock, licensed.

EUROPE – The countries that make up the European Union (EU) voted unanimously on Tuesday to abolish the sales of CO2-emitting cars by 2035 in favor of electric vehicles only, with Germany offering a sole exception for vehicles that run on e-fuels. 

The EU’s phase out of gas-powered vehicles was delayed temporarily four weeks ago after Germany expressed opposition to some aspects of the policy, namely as it pertains to vehicles that run on e-fuel, a class of synthetic fuels manufactured using captured carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, together with hydrogen obtained from sustainable electricity sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power. 

After the exception was granted to Germany, the vote went forward this week and was approved by all EU member countries. 

The new law will mandate that all cars sold from 2030 onward must have 55 percent lower CO2 admissions when compared to 2021 levels, and zero CO2 emissions altogether starting in 2035. 

Some critics of the law are hoping that the exception granted to Germany will establish a loophole that will still allow traditional internal combustion vehicles to be sold in the overall EU in some manner, although this aspect of the law is currently uncertain. 

The vote on Tuesday was hailed as an important step in the rapid decarbonization of the EU in the fight against climate change, according to German Transport Minister Volker Wissing. 

“The agreement will open up important options for the population towards climate-neutral and affordable mobility,” he said.  

EU Climate Policy Chief Frans Timmermans said that The EU vote to abolish CO2 emitting vehicles was an important step and combating global warming. 

“The direction of travel is clear: in 2035, new cars and vans must have zero emissions,” he said. 

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