The European Council announced today that it has adopted a new regulation which includes a requirement for a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars and vans registered in the EU from 2035.  

The announcement marks the final major step in the adoption of stricter CO2 emission performance standards in the EU, one of the key planks of the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” roadmap – the EU’s proposed strategy to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

The new regulation had been agreed to by the Council and the European Parliament in October 2022, but had faced challenges in reaching its final adoption, with Germany asking for assurances that combustion engines would still be allowed past the 2035 deadline, provided that they run on carbon neutral fuels, or “e-fuels.” A deal on the use of efuels was announced by Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal and German Transport Minister Volker Wissing over the weekend.

According to a statement from the European Council, the new regulation now contains a reference to e-fuels, under which “the Commission will make a proposal for registering vehicles running exclusively on CO2-neutral fuels, after 2035, in conformity with EU law, outside the scope of the fleet standards, and in conformity with the EU’s climate neutrality objective.”

In addition to the 2035 goal, the regulation also includes interim targets requiring a 55% CO2 emission reduction for new cars and 50% for new vans by 2030, compared to 2021 levels.

The Council also announced an agreement today with the European Parliament for a related Fit for 55 law, mandating a significant increase in electric vehicle recharging and hydrogen refueling stations across Europe’s main transport networks, aimed at enabling the transition to zero emission transport, and addressing consumer refueling concerns that could impede the switch to zero emission vehicles.

Romina Pourmokhtari, Swedish Minister for Climate and the Environment, said:

“I’m happy to see that the EU is delivering on it promises with the Fit for 55 package. The new rules will bring opportunities for cutting-edge technologies and create the momentum for industry to invest in a fossil-free future.”

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