While the measure has yet to be debated by the House and passed into law, the parliamentary vote is seen as the most important step in the process. Full approval likely means a drop in hybrid car sales and a quick transition to all-electric models.
Support for the action follows a string of rejections of other major climate policies on Wednesday.
A center-right parliamentary faction has voiced opposition to a 100% ban by 2035. Some lawmakers had instead called for a 90% ban, meaning that a tenth of new car sales could remain as combustion engines.
“I am satisfied and very happy with the result,” said Dutch lawmaker Jan Hetema, who led the formulation of the policy.
Parliament had earlier rejected three other key proposals, including its core policy of reforming the carbon market.
German lawmaker Peter Leese told reporters earlier Wednesday that his center-right group EPP was not in favor of a ban 100%, adding that combustion vehicles could still be useful, if technology for low-carbon synthetic fuels improved over time.
“We don’t think politicians should decide whether electric cars or synthetic fuels are the best option. Personally, I think most consumers would buy an electric car if we gave them the necessary infrastructure and that’s what we need to do,” he said.
He added that it is possible that combustion cars that use synthetic fuels in the future will become more competitive than electric cars. It may also be more realistic for many developing countries in Africa and Asia – which buy European cars – especially if those countries are unable to transition to economies based on renewable energy in the next few decades, Lizzie said.
The commission first announced a plan to phase out combustion engine cars in August last year. To facilitate the switch to electric vehicles, the commission said it will ask the 27 EU member states to increase the vehicle’s charging capacity. Charging points will be installed every 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) on major highways, and the minimum tax rate on gasoline and diesel fuel will be raised.
The automotive industry plays a vital role in the European economy, accounting for 7% of GDP and supporting 14.6 million jobs in the region. But transportation is the only sector with high greenhouse gas emissions, and road vehicles accounted for 21% of carbon dioxide emissions in 2017.
The United Kingdom, which is no longer in the European Union, announced last year that it would ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, with sales of some new hybrid cars continuing until 2035.
The vote in favor of the measure followed parliament’s abrupt rejection of EU proposals to create a more ambitious emissions trading scheme, a carbon cap tax and a social climate fund.
Liese, Parliament’s chief negotiator on carbon market reform, urged his colleagues to try again on the committee to find a proposal that has support.
“All those who voted against today can think twice… Please don’t kill the ETS,” he said.
Setting more ambitious targets for the plan, which forces some of the biggest polluters to buy carbon credits, was the bloc’s primary legislation under its umbrella for Plan Fit 55, a roadmap to cut emissions 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The goal is one of the most ambitious climate goals ambitious for any major economy.
The European Union is the third largest polluter in the world.
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