Phase-out set to start by 2035 as part of new climate-change measures by bloc

A complete phasing out of the sale of new fossil fuel cars in the European Union will come into place by the year 2035 as part of a set of new climate change measures that has been agreed by the environment ministers of the 27 member states at a meeting in Luxembourg.

The specific proposals will need the approval of European Parliament, which backs the general idea, and once they come into effect it will be a major step towards the bloc’s target of being climate neutral by 2050.

The deal was agreed despite some resistance from Germany, which has the bloc’s largest auto market, and which insisted that new cars running on what it called CO2 neutral fuels will still be permitted after 2035.

“EU member states have voted with an overwhelming majority that starting from 2035, only cars and light commercial vehicles will be permitted that do not emit CO2,” said the country’s Environment Minister SteffiLemke.

“This sends a clear signal that we must achieve the climate targets. They also give the auto industry the planning security that it needs.”

The breakthrough on vehicles was part of a wider package of measures addressing emissions, which the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans called “a very good day for the European Union”.

“I want to stress that today’s negotiations were long and sometimes complicated because these are very, very, very far-reaching proposals,” he said.

“We now have a common position on these major issues from the Council, from the European Parliament, which will give us the possibility to start the negotiations with a very short deadline. And we need that.

“The world is not waiting. The climate crisis does not wait. The geopolitical challenges do not wait and Europe has to show unity, determination, global leadership.”

Ministers also agreed to the establishment of a 59 billion euros ($62 billion) social climate fund, to protect those on lower incomes from any rises in energy bills caused by the new carbon policies.

Some wealthier countries who are likely to put in more than they would get out of it had called for a smaller figure, while others in the opposite position had wanted something bigger.

“The transition to renewable energy will bring the bills down, but many people will need some support in getting there,” said Timmermans.

All member states can put proposals to the Commission on how precisely the funding can be used.

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