EU to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Here’s why some countries are pushing back

EU to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Here’s why some countries are pushing back

The European Parliament has approved a new law banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2035.

The new rule - part of a larger effort to combat climate change in the EU - will speed up the bloc’s transition to electric vehicles. Cars currently account for around 15 per cent of all CO2 emissions in the EU.

The legislation demands that carmakers cut carbon emissions from new cars by 100 per cent. In practice, this means no new fossil fuel-powered vehicles will be able to be sold from 2035 onwards.

The approval on Tuesday is one step before the law gets a formal rubber stamp and comes into effect.

But some countries are pushing back against the change.

Is the EU ready to swap to electric vehicles?

Italy is home to big car brands like Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, which are heavily reliant on combustion engine vehicles. Around 270,000 people are directly or indirectly employed by the automotive industry in the country.

Italian Minister for Transport Matteo Salvini has called the new law economic “suicide” for the EU. He said it was “ideological fundamentalism” that would benefit China and harm the European car industry.

The country’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajan has also sought to dilute the legislation, calling for a 90 per cent reduction in carbon emissions rather than 100 per cent.

A picture taken on January 18, 2021 shows traffic on the Riva Tre Novembre avenue close to Piazza Unita d'Italia in the northern city of Trieste. - MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP

Others warn that neither Europe’s industry nor the general public is ready for such a dramatic shift.

The European People's Party Group - a centre-right political group in the European Parliament - say the law could lead to people driving older combustion engine cars after new sales are banned because they can’t afford an electric replacement.

Claims that electric cars are cheaper have been rendered “null and void” by the soaring cost of energy, argues German MEP Jens Gieseke of the European People's Party. Opponents of the legislation also say that car batteries are being produced abroad rather than in the EU.

'A victory for our planet and our populations'

President of the transport committee Karima Delli said that this was “a historic vote for the ecological transition.”

“We will no longer, or almost no longer, have petrol or diesel cars on our roads in 2050.”

Delli added that the legislation is a “victory for our planet and our populations.”

But EU Vice President Frans Timmermans warned MEPs that China was bringing 80 new models of electric cars to the international market between last year and the end of this year. The car industry needs to be prepared.

“These are good cars,” Timmermans said. “These are cars that will be more and more affordable, and we need to compete with that. We don't want to give up this essential industry to outsiders.”

Many European car companies are already getting ready for the new law by becoming competitive in the electric vehicle market.

The automotive industry didn’t lobby hard against it - an indication that the electric shift is well underway.