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EU Lawmakers Uphold Ban on New Combustion Engine Cars by 2035

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(Bloomberg) -- The European Union moved closer to forcing automakers to cease selling new gasoline-powered cars as lawmakers upheld plans to ban combustion engines from 2035 to help protect the climate.

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Members of Parliament rejected an amendment that would have allowed some auto emissions from new vehicles after 2035. The move is in line with the Commission’s proposal for a 100% emissions cut by that year. The vote now sets the stage for negotiations with member states later this year to determine the final shape of the law.

If an agreement is reached, it effectively spells the end of the combustion-engine car in Europe, marking a radical overhaul of a form of transport that has been dominant for more than a century. It would also be a crucial win for the bloc’s climate agenda, with the transportation sector proving one of the hardest to decarbonize.

“This regulation encourages the production of zero-emission vehicles,” said Jan Huitema, a member of Parliament from the Netherlands who has been leading the push for cleaner transport. “With CO2 standards, we create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers.”

Across the globe, governments are grappling with how to limit the effects of climate change while minimizing the effect on their economies. The EU has seen itself as a leader in the push toward cleaner energy, with its Green Deal to become climate neutral by mid-century.

Clean Transport

Many automakers are already sensing the shift, moving toward production of electric vehicles and away from combustion engines as they face increased competition from EV makers like Tesla Inc.

The EU’s move targets industry rather than citizens, as drivers would be able to keep their old vehicles as long as they want. Still, it marks a trend toward cleaner transportation -- from 2030, the UK plans to ban sales of new vehicles that run only on gasoline and diesel.

Also See: EV Sales Tripling by 2025 Still Leaves World Short of Net Zero

Lawmakers from the conservative European People’s Party -- as well as other right-leaning groups -- had attempted to tone down the ambition on cutting cars’ carbon emissions, highlighting concerns over potential job losses in the industry. The EPP was seeking a 90% reduction in emissions from 2035 instead of a full cut.

Members of Parliament also voted against an amendment that would allow carmakers to buy credits for so-called e-fuels. Those synthetic fuels, made using captured carbon dioxide, with hydrogen produced from renewables, have been touted as a way to keep the combustion engine.

(Updates with additional details throughout.)

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