The EU has set ambitious goals to curve the bloc’s CO2 emissions but many fear that the road toward a greener future might be marred with challenges, mainly economic ones. Dissent is expected to arise from a handful of EU countries.
We have repeatedly said that the EU’s climate goals must be set in a way not to harm our industry. It must be done reasonably, not based on ideologyAndrej Babiš, Czech Prime Minister
On 14 July 2021, the European Commission adopted a series of legislative proposals setting out how it intends to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050, including the intermediate target of an at least 55% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The package proposes to revise several pieces of EU climate legislation, including the EU ETS, Effort Sharing Regulation, transport and land use legislation, setting out in real terms the ways in which the Commission intends to reach EU climate targets under the European Green Deal.
Proposals to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars across the EU from 2035 by calling for only zero-emission cars to be sold after that date. The initiative has been perceived as an indirect mandate for electric vehicles and reduced interest in other alternatives such as natural gas, biodiesel and hybrid-electric.
According to the European Commission, passenger cars and vans (‘light commercial vehicles’) are respectively responsible for around 12% and 2.5% of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas.
On 1 January 2020, Regulation (EU) 2019/631 entered into force, setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and vans. It replaced and repealed the former Regulations (EC) 443/2009 (cars) and (EU) 510/2011 (vans). The Regulation sets EU fleet-wide CO2 emission targets applying from 2020, 2025 and 2030 and includes a mechanism to incentivise the uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicles.
As the new target started applying in 2020, the average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in Europe have decreased by 12% compared to the previous year and the share of electric cars tripled.
According to Politico, President Joe Biden announced that batteries will be the future of the American automotive industry. In August, Biden laid out plans to make sure half of all new vehicles sold in the US by the end of the decade use batteries. According to consultancy Wood Mackenzie, electric vehicles globally have hit 7 percent of the market. It should be noted, however, that much of those sales are concentrated in wealthier European countries and China.
The European Commission’s draft will be examined in Brussels over the next few months to try to convert its proposals into law. According to Politico, countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria are keen on seeing a fossil fuel end date, and will most likely support the 2035 zero car emissions deadline.
This goal, however noble, will not be hassle-free as some EU countries have a strong car-industry lobby. France, Germany, France and Italy along with Central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary are likely to offer resistance on the negotiating table, to say the least. The car industry is responsible for over 2.5 million direct factory jobs.