Technically speaking, the law requires a “100 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions” from all new cars sold in the EU by 2035. This doesn’t outlaw petrol or diesel, but makes them all but an impossibility to be sold after the deadline – except in very limited circumstances.
In the meantime, manufacturers will be required to reduce CO2 emissions for cars by 55 per cent compared to 2021 levels by 2030. For vans, this figure is 50 per cent.
Small manufacturers – that is those producing between 1000 and 10,000 new cars or 1000 to 22,000 new vans per year – will have until the end of 2035 to get their house in order.
Whilst we’ve known that this was coming, getting there hasn’t been straightforward and the new law was far from universally popular. It passed with 340 votes compared to 279 votes against and 21 abstentions. Even large, generally progressive markets such as Germany have previously called for a watered-down version.
According to Jan Huitema, the EU Parliament’s lead negotiator, this is the push that the industry needs to bring down the cost of zero emissions motoring on the continent: "This regulation encourages the production of zero- and low-emission vehicles. It contains an ambitious revision of the targets for 2030 and a zero-emission target for 2035, which is crucial to reach climate-neutrality by 2050.
"These targets create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers.
"Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers and a second-hand market will emerge more quickly. It makes sustainable driving accessible to everyone."
As well as intermediate targets for reducing CO2 emissions, the legislation will continually review manufacturers’ performance, with a methodology presented to the EU Parliament by 2025 for assessing the lifetime CO2 emissions of new cars and vans. A year after this is presented, monitoring will commence to assess the gap between agreed emissions and real-world fuel consumption. From this, further methodology will be created for adjusting CO2 emissions of each manufacturer. Finally, incentives for selling cars with CO2 emissions of sub-50g/km will be maintained, but gradually reduced as sales trends naturally begin to favour these vehicles.
The UK’s position remains as it has done for some time, with the ambition also being to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 in line with the EU.
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