The European Parliament has approved legislation which will see a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the bloc from 2035.
The new rules require that by 2035 auto manufacturers must achieve a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars sold.
The legislation also stipulates a 55% cut in CO2 emissions for new cars sold from 2030 versus 2021 levels, a significant increase on the existing target of a 37.5%.
Supporters of the new bill, which has been passed in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, argue it gives European automakers a clear timeframe to switch production to electric vehicles and will also spur investment to counter competition from China and the United States.
“The operating costs of an electric vehicle are already lower than the operating costs of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine,” Jan Huitema, the parliament’s lead negotiator on the rules, said, adding that it was crucial to bring more affordable electric vehicles to consumers.
EU member states still need to rubber stamp the rules before they can take effect, with final approval expected in March.
In a separate move, the European Commission has unveiled its plans to reduce emissions from heavier vehicles.
At present the EC proposes a timetable for reducing the emissions of trucks of more than five tonnes and long-distance buses (more than 7.5 tonnes), which have comparable engines, by tightening emissions standards from 2030.
From January 2030, new trucks’ emissions must be reduced by at least 45% compared to 2019 levels. These emissions must then be cut by 65% from January 2035 and by 90% from January 2040 — again relative to 2019 levels.
City buses must be emissions free from 2030, but the EC said manufacturers could select their own technology to achieve this, citing electric motors, hydrogen engines and hydrogen fuel cells.
Cars currently account for about 15% of all CO2 emissions in the EU. Trucks, city buses and long-distance buses account for another 6%.