EU: 100% reduction target in vehicle CO2 emissions by 2035

Marking a huge challenge for the automotive industry in Europe, the EU sets ambitious target to end sale of combustion engines by 2035

The European parliament has voted to set a 100% reduction target in vehicular CO2 emissions from 2035 onwards, further accelerating the transition from combustion engines to electric vehicles.

This means ending the sale of vehicles with combustion engines by 2035 in European member countries and a complete shift to electric engines.

This is just one of a list of new climate actions that have been agreed by environment ministers in European parliament this week, as the EU looks to reach its carbon neutrality goal by 2050.

Alongside the accelerated shift to EV, the EU has agreed to crack down on goods tied to deforestation and have also set up a €59bn fund to compensate those affected by the green transition and boost energy efficiency, low-carbon transport and building renovations.

Ambitious vehicle emission reduction goals force OEMs to find solutions fast

Described by French Minister of Ecological Transition, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, as “a big challenge for our automotive industry”, this ambitious new vehicle CO2 emissions reduction goal of 100% by 2035 is intended to help achieve the continent’s climate objections – in particular, the EU Green Deal which has set a target to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Vehicle CO2 emissions are currently a major contributor to climate change, and this ambitious target is a key part of the EU’s climate mitigation plans.

“Estimates from the European Commission highlight that vehicles account for 20% of carbon emissions, with passenger cars and light commercial vehicles accounting for 22% and 2.5%, respectively,” says Fredrick Royan, VP of Sustainability & Circular Economy at Frost & Sullivan.

Earlier in the year, 100 cities across the European Union signed up to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Ambitious target will force all stakeholders to accelerate solutions

The thinking behind putting in place the 100% target in vehicle CO2 emissions by 2035 is at such a high level as to force multiple stakeholders to work together to find solutions.

Pannier-Runacher said the step was a “necessity” given the competition and from China and the US, which have bet heavily on EVs seen as the future of the industry.

As well as forcing OEMs to find technological solutions fast, be it hydrogen or electric, this proposed target signals to EU member states that they must prioritise their EV charging infrastructure.

According to Dr Jose Pereira, Director, Automotive & Transportation at Frost & Sullivan, the new market will see more than 100 million electric vehicles sold every year, and the charging infrastructure will be key to ensuring the feasibility of the transition.

Pereira highlights some of the challenges ahead for stakeholders in reaching these goals, including securing the raw and processed materials needed to make sufficient batteries for EVs and ensuring they remain affordable for consumers in the process.

He adds that work will need to be undertaken to develop a recycling infrastructure to ensure that the transition from the outgoing combustion engine to EVs will be more sustainable for a lifetime.

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