An open call to MEPs in the European Parliament Environment Committee
Europe’s lawmakers must agree on ambitious new climate legislation this year as this is the decade when we have to halve emissions. As extreme droughts, floods and temperatures are increasing in both intensity and frequency, the ‘Fit for 55’ package will determine whether Europe gets on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and fulfil the EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. It will also determine the future of one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in Europe: cars and vans.
Together, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles are responsible for 15% of all Europe’s carbon dioxide emissions. They are also the single largest source of toxic nitrogen dioxide pollution, which cuts short the lives of over 40,000 Europeans every year.1
But there is a solution. Electric vehicles now offer the opportunity to replace the polluting internal combustion engine, bring financial benefits to consumers2, and usher in a new era of zero emissions mobility. Today, every major automotive manufacturer is racing to invest and produce new electric models. And, in view of soaring fuel prices, electric vehicles can help consumers cut down their mobility costs. Demand is rapidly growing, with fully electric cars accounting for more than 1 in 10 cars sold in Europe in 2021. Electric cars also consume zero oil, and so are a key structural measure to wean Europe off its oil habit, over a quarter of which we continue to import from Russia.
With the review of the EU car and van CO2 emissions standards, you have the power to decide when and how fast the journey to emissions-free revolution will happen in Europe. Along with fewer private car journeys and a more efficient and shared mobility system, this is one of the key solutions to achieving zero emission road transport.
We call on you, ahead of the Environment Committee (ENVI) vote on 11 May, to support:
1. an EU-wide phase-out date – via a 100% CO2 reduction target – for sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars and vans (including hybrids) no later than 2035. Any target less ambitious than this will mean Europe does not meet its 2050 climate neutrality target.
2. We also call on you to support more ambitious CO2 standards up to 2030. A more ambitious trajectory, with higher CO2 reduction targets in 2025, 2030 and an interim target in 2027 will accelerate our reduction of Russian oil consumption by over half a billion barrels of oil by 2030 and deliver earlier and increased climate and air quality benefits. A faster trajectory in the 2020s will also increase the supply of affordable electric vehicles, ensuring they swiftly reach the second-hand market where savings will be the greatest for low- and middle-income earners.
3. Finally, we call on you to set a clear and transparent CO2 regulatory framework and reject loopholes being pushed by the oil, gas, and suppliers industries that would allow carmakers to buy fuel credits to comply with their CO2 targets. Commercially producing e-fuels is far less efficient than using electricity to power electric vehicles. Supplying just 10% of new cars with e-fuels instead of electrifying them will require 23% more renewable electricity generation in Europe. Pushing expensive e-fuels in cars will also push up costs for drivers – with analysis finding that running a car on e-fuels over five years will cost a driver €10,000 more than running a battery electric car. Synthetic fuels should instead be prioritised for hard to electrify transport modes like planes and ships, which today burn fossil fuels and do not have a technology alternative. Finally, mixing fuels into legislation regulating engines will lead to an unenforceable law – it will not be feasible to track what drivers put in their cars over the lifetime of an e-fuel credited car, creating a significant loophole in the regulation.
The signatories would also like to underline an important enabling measure that can help deliver earlier and more ambitious CO2 reduction targets on the way to the 100% zero emission goal. The electrification of corporate cars, which represent 60% of annual new car sales in Europe, can represent an important demand side measure. Furthermore, a mandate to ensure corporate fleets are fully electric by 2030, will ensure hundreds of thousands of electric cars becoming available on the second-hand market after just 3-4 years at a more affordable price for lower and middle-income drivers.
Not only will these proposed measures put Europe on a pathway to deliver reductions in line with what is needed to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement, but will also set in motion an urgently needed systemic transformation and make Europe a global leader in a key industry for a net zero future, safeguarding EU jobs and competitiveness. A broad variety of carmakers3 have voluntarily pledged to start selling only electric cars in Europe over the next decade. As decision-makers, we call on you to support this ambition and provide regulatory certainty for investments on the transition ahead.
1 EEA, (2021, 12, 01) Air Pollution: how it affects our health.
2 BEUC (2021), Electric cars already cheapest option today for many consumers, new study finds, https://www.beuc.eu/publications/electric-cars-already-cheapest-option-today-many-consumers-new-stud y-finds/html.
3 T&E, summary of OEM public announcements, https://infogram.com/test-1h7g6k0kegdno2o?live