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EU lawmakers to vote on weakening ban on combustion engine cars

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The European Parliament will vote this week on whether to weaken a plan for a 100 percent cut in CO2 emissions from new cars — a move that would have the effect of banning sales of new internal-combustion cars in the bloc.

The proposal to allow only zero-emissions new cars to be sold in the 27-country European Union after 2035 will mean that cars with gasoline or diesel engines, including hybrids, will essentially mandate sales of all-electric models, which have no emissions.

The 100 percent cut was a centerpiece of the “Fit for 55” plan presented in July 2021 that aims to cut net greenhouse gases in the EU by 55 percent by 2030 on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Amendments to be dicussed this week from the EPP, parliament’s biggest lawmaker group, will attempt to weaken the proposed reduction to 90 percent.

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By speeding the shift to zero-emission EVs, the bloc aims to tackle the 25 percent of emissions that come from transportation, which in recent years have been rising.

The existing vehicle emissions rules mandate a 37.5 percent cut by 2030 from the 2021 fleet average of 95 grams of CO2 per km. Environmental groups want to strengthen that to include stricter intermediate targets, including a 45 percent cut by 2027.

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The European Parliament’s environment committee supported the 2035 target of a 100 percent emissions cut in May.

A group of 50 nongovernmental and consumer organizations sent a letter to members of Parliament last week calling for the 2027 intermediate target; an end to the mass-adjustment factor, which raises the emissions threshold for automakers that sell heavier cars; and to support the phase-out of all internal-combustion powered new cars “as close as possible to 2030 but no later than 2035.”

Industry groups say the 2035 target would cost thousands of jobs, and have called for the proposal to be weakened to allow for a softer transition to electrification. Conservative members of Parliament are backing measures that would allow for some sales of internal combustion vehicles after 2035, including a 90 percent cut in emissions by that date.

The proposal would also end the derogation for automakers that build 1,000 to 10,000 cars annually by 2029. After that date, only automakers that build 1,000 cars or less could apply for an exemption or modification of the emissions targets.

Under the EU’s complex lawmaking process, the European Parliament will debate eight main proposals on Tuesday and vote on them on Wednesday, to confirm its position for negotiations with EU countries on the final legislation. Members are considering hundreds of amendments that could increase or weaken the impact of the EU’s climate policies. 

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Reuters contributed to this report

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