EU considers phasing out combustion engines as it plans for electric future

Brussels is considering introducing a deadline to phase out the combustion engine in order to accelerate the growth of electric vehicles.

Frans Timmermans, European Commission vice-president for green policy, told the Financial Times that Brussels is also considering making carmakers pay a carbon price as part of a plan to decarbonise the EU economy.

These steps form part of a plan to drive down the cost of electric vehicles and make cleaner cars “accessible to all Europeans.”

The European Commission will present a series of measures this month to ensure the EU can meet its target of reducing average carbon emissions by 55% in 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

According to Timmermans, the measures will consist of tightening CO2 emissions standards for new cars sold over the next decade, as well as a proposal for carmakers to pay for polluting under the EU’s market-driven emissions trading scheme.

Timmermans told the FT: “We have to do these two things to stimulate the introduction of electric vehicles. We don’t believe that just announcing a cut-off date would do the trick, but that telling the industry — as we’ve been doing all along — that we will come with stricter emission norms is actually sending the message and pushing them into this direction.”

The Financial Times is also reporting that the European Commission is also considering a 100% reduction in average CO2 emissions in new cars by 2035.

The EU is aiming to become the first major region to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and Timmermans is quoted saying the car industry’s approach had “changed completely” as the sector invested in low emissions battery technology.

He said: “The car industry has really embraced the idea that they need to decarbonise. There’s always going to be a discussion at what pace but I think they’ve understood that this is the way forward.”

He added that Brussels would try to convince member states of the merits of the system by proposing a Climate Action Social Fund that would use a “substantial” portion of proceeds from the housing and transport carbon market to cushion the blow for worst-hit households.

“It has to be substantial, so you can mitigate the consequences for those who would be unevenly affected by the changes. We need to make sure that all Europeans can travel in an electric vehicle and charge it within a reasonable distance of where they need to be or where they live.”

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