The EU has a hard time letting go of fossil fuels. Photo: © Max4e Photo /

EU is too slow on phasing-out fossil fuels in transport sector

The EU reached agreement in February 2023 on ending sales of new combustion engine cars and vans by 2035. But phasing out sales of new cars with internal combustion engines in the EU by 2035 is a deadline which Greenpeace says falls well short of the EU’s climate commitments and will cost drivers hundreds of billions in fuel in the midst of a spiralling energy crisis. “The EU is taking the scenic route, and that route ends in disaster. A European 2035 phase-out of fossil fuel-burning cars is not quick enough: new cars with internal combustion engines should be banned by 2028 at the latest. The announcement is a perfect example of where politicians can bask in a feel-good headline that masks the reality of their repeated failures to act on climate. The UN has just confirmed that the climate crisis will spiral out of control unless governments take rapid and decisive action, including a shift to cleaner modes of transport.”

A roadmap produced by Greenpeace to decarbonise the European transport sector by 2040 found that new sales of fossil fuel-burning cars must end by 2028 at the latest, in addition to measures to cut unnecessary journeys and shift to cleaner modes of transport to meet the Paris climate agreement’s commitment to limit global heating to below 1.5°C. Phasing out internal combustion engines by 2028 would save drivers more than 635 billion euro on fuel, compared to the 2035 deadline.
At the same time the EU was also discussing whether polluting trucks could continue to be sold in Europe after 2040, which Transport and Environment (T&E) says would make the bloc’s net-zero climate goal impossible. The proposed 90 percent CO2 reduction target for truck makers virtually ensures that diesel freight trucks would still be on the road 10 years later, in 2050. Trucks account for just 2 per cent of the vehicles on the road but are responsible for almost 30 percent of EU road transport CO2 emissions. Road transport and heavy-duty vehicles are also one of the largest sources of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution, which cause an estimated 350,000 premature deaths per year in the EU.

Compiled by Reinhold Pape

Greenpeace press release, 27 October 2022
T&E press releases, 27 October 2022 and
14 February 2023



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