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EU green policy chief lays out plans to drive electric vehicle absorption

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Brussels seeks to stimulate the reception of electric cars by imposing a deadline to gradually eliminate the combustion engine and make car manufacturers pay a carbon price as part of a plan to decarbonise the EU economy.

Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission for Green Policy, told the Financial Times that Brussels was preparing a multi-pronged strategy to lower the cost of electric vehicles and make cleaner cars “accessible to all Europeans”.

The commission will present a series of measures this month to ensure the EU can meet its target of reducing average carbon emissions by 55 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Timmermans said the measures will include a tightening of CO2 emission standards for new cars sold over the next decade and a proposal for car manufacturers to pay for pollution in the market-led emissions trading scheme. of the EU.

“We’re going to do these two things to stimulate the introduction of electric vehicles. We don’t think just announcing an expiration date will do the trick, but what to say to the industry – as we’ve done all along – that comes with stricter emission standards actually send the message and push them in that direction, ”he said.

An EU official told the FT that Brussels was considering a 100 per cent reduction in average CO2 emissions in new cars by 2035 – making it a billing date for the latest petrol cars. is diesel for sale in the EU. In Germany The Volkswagenannounced last week that it aimed to stop the manufacture of combustion engine vehicles in Europe by 2035.

EU car emissions standards have faced fierce lobbying from vehicle manufacturers when a 37.5 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2030 was agreed for the first time in 2018. This is likely to be revised up to 60 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035, the official said.

The EU aims to become the first major region to hit net carbon emissions by 2050. Brussels will propose 13 legislative measures on 14 July to translate the target into a legal reality. The legislation will have to be approved by a majority of MEPs and the 27 EU Member States to enter into force.

Timmermans said the automotive industry’s approach was “completely changed” since the sector invested in low-emission battery technology. Electric vehicles accounted for about 11 percent of new EU vehicle registrations in 2020, tripling from the previous year, according to the European Environment Agency.

“The automotive industry has really embraced the idea that they need to decarbonise. There will always be a discussion at what rate, but I think they understand that this is the way forward,” he said.

Timmermans said the existing run of “the dirtiest” vehicles on the road should be discouraged by including vehicle manufacturers in the block’s carbon pricing system. Brussels has prepared plans to include transport and housing in a smaller cap-and-trade carbon market, where sectors will buy and sell carbon credits based on their emissions.

Frans Timmermans says EU multi-strategy will cut costs and make cleaner cars “accessible to all Europeans” © Johanna Geron / Pool via AP

The proposed carbon price has been criticized by governments in the poorest parts of the EU for disproportionately penalizing lower-income consumers who cannot easily switch to electric vehicles or alternative modes of green transport.

Timmermans said Brussels would try to convince member states of the system’s merits by proposing a Climate Action Social Fund that would use a “substantial” share of revenues from the housing and carbon transport market to pushing the blow for the most vulnerable families.

“It has to be substantial, in order to mitigate the consequences for those who would be unequally affected by the changes,” he said.

Timmermans, a Dutch Social Democrat, said that while there was fear of a 2018 repeat of Franceyellow vests “ reaction contrary to the projected increase in fuel taxes, emissions in the transport sector had increased in recent years. The poorest countries in Eastern Europe have also warned that their fossil fuel-dependent economies are at risk of being penalized by the rapid rate of decarbonisation.

“The sense of urgency is not the same everywhere in Europe. If your general concern is [making it to] the end of the month, so the end of life on Earth is not something you think about every day, ”he said.

“Everything we present must be socially credible.” This is definitely the biggest transformation operation in living memory. It will be hard. ”

The Commission will also respond to the most complete EU charging infrastructure requests across the EU after rresearch has shown that three countries – France, the Netherlands and Germany – have welcomed 70 percent of all car charging points in the block.

Timmermans said the EU’s current target of 1m recharging points by 2025 was “modest” and that Brussels would propose stricter requirements for recharging points in smaller geographical neighborhoods later this month.

“We need to ensure that all Europeans can travel in an electric vehicle and recharge it at a reasonable distance from where they need it or where they live,” he said.


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