07 October, 2019

Call for EU ban on petrol and diesel vehicles

Europe should produce a strategy to phase out petrol and diesel cars, including a ban of sales at member state-level by 2030.

The call, made by environment ministers from Denmark and backed by 10 other countries, would help Europe reach its goal of becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. As part of this goal, the continent is aiming to cut emissions by 40% by 2030.

In a meeting of ministers in Luxembourg, the Danish contingent asked for a clear direction towards climate neutrality for all sectors of the economy, including the transport sector.

Transitional phase

‘During this transition, the EU must remain competitive and able to cater for the mobility needs of people and goods,’ the country said in its submission. ‘Passenger cars account for around 12 % of the EU’s total CO2-emissions, and transport is the only major sector in the EU where greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing.

‘The Commission’s analysis accompanying ‘A Clean Planet for All’ demonstrates that no new diesel and petrol cars should be sold after 2040 in the EU to reach climate neutrality by 2050. To support the transition to climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest, we need an accelerated shift from petrol and diesel cars to a fleet of zero-emission passenger cars.’

Both Luxembourg and the Netherlands backed the motion.

Failed ban

Denmark announced plans last year to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. However it was forced to scrap this move when the EU wrote to its government suggesting that such a move would require a change in European law, and this was unlikely to be enacted in time.

The country hopes its move for a strategy, together with support from other countries, will at least lead to legislation allowing individual member states to enact their bans.

However, when the point was raised in the meeting, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and several other countries suggested that more must be done to stop the ‘carbon leakage’ of selling second-hand vehicles from western Europe to the eastern region.

This movement pushes high-polluting models across Europe, giving Eastern countries bigger air-quality problems than their counterparts.

UK movements

Meanwhile, the UK is examining the possibility of bringing its own 2040 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles forward by five years.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said he would like to see the government examine at the 2040 target and ‘thoroughly exploring’ whether there’s a case for bringing it forward.

Shapps acknowledged the government’s Committee on Climate Change's view that the ban should be brought forward to 2035 at the very latest and pledged to test the arguments in favour of it, working with industry to examine how to proceed.

‘Just as we rejuvenated the automotive sector in the 1980s, we’re going to work with our pioneering automotive sector to help them sell the next generation of electric cars around the world, providing high-skilled jobs, utilising British know-how and ending that dependence on fossil fuels once and for all,’ he concluded.