Goal set: zero-emission cars from 2035
4/6/2023 Sustainability & CO2 neutrality News

Goal set: zero-emission cars from 2035

"Fit for 55": Council adopts regulation on CO2 emissions for new cars and vans. The European Commission welcomes the final adoption of the new standards at its meeting in Brussels in March 2023. The new regulations are expected to reduce emissions from road transportation by 100 per cent by 2035.

Road traffic
The Council adopted a regulation setting stricter CO2 emission performance standards for new cars and vans. The new rules aim to reduce emissions from road transport that has the highest share of emissions from transport - and provide the right push for the automotive industry to shift towards zero-emission mobility while ensuring continued innovation in the industry.

The proposal to revise the CO2 emissions performance standards for cars and vans is part of the "Fit for 55" package. Presented by the European Commission on 14 July 2021, the package will enable the EU to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.
Graphic showing projected CO2 emissions reductions for new cars and vans Projected CO2 emission reductions for new cars and vans

The new rules set the following targets:

  • 55 per cent CO2 emission reductions for new cars and 50 per cent for new vans from 2030 to 2034 compared to 2021 levels
  • 100 per cent CO2 emission reductions for both new cars and vans from 2035 
Tweet from Frans Timmermans

EU states vote for zero-emission cars from 2035

The Commission welcomes the final adoption in March 2023 by the EU Member States of the European Commission’s proposal to make all new cars and vans registered in Europe zero-emission from 2035. The Commission will also propose a delegated act in autumn 2023, in line with the legal empowerment, specifying how vehicles powered exclusively by e-fuels would contribute to the CO2 emission reduction targets.

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said following the Council vote: “The final vote today marks an important step towards zero-emission mobility in the EU. The direction of travel is clear: in 2035, new cars and vans must have zero emissions. The new rules on CO2-emissions from cars and vans are a key part of the European Green Deal and will be a big contribution to our target of being climate neutral by 2050.”
Romina Pourmokhtari
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.
Romina Pourmokhtari, Swedish Minister for Climate and the Environment

From incentive mechanisms and review clauses

A regulatory incentive mechanism for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV) will be in place from 2025 until the end of 2029. As part of this mechanism, if a manufacturer meets certain benchmarks for the sales of zero- and low-emission vehicles it can be rewarded with less strict CO2 targets. The benchmark is set at 25 per cent for cars and 17 per cent for vans.  

The regulation includes a review clause that foresees that in 2026, the Commission will thoroughly assess the progress made towards achieving the 2035 100 per cent emission reduction targets and the possible need to review them. The review will take into account technological developments, including with regard to plug-in hybrid technologies and the importance of a viable and socially equitable transition towards zero emissions. The regulation maintains a derogation for small volume manufacturers until the end of 2035.

In addition, the regulation includes other provisions such as

  • gradually reducing the cap of emission credits that manufacturers can receive for eco-innovations that verifiably reduce CO2 emissions on the road, to maximum four grams per kilometers per year from 2030 until the end of 2034. It is currently set at seven grams per kilometers per year.
  • a common EU methodology, to be developed by the Commission by 2025, for assessing the full life cycle of CO2 emissions of cars and vans placed on the EU market, as well as for the fuels and energy consumed by these vehicles.
The European Parliament adopted the regulation in first reading on 14 February 2023. The Council adoption today is the last step of the decision-making procedure. The regulation will now be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication.
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