EU countries have approved an end to the sale of gas-powered cars in 2035, allowing the ban to enter into force.
With its vote on Tuesday, the European Council “has taken an important step towards zero-emission mobility,” EU environment commissioner Frans Timmermans said on Twitter. “The direction is clear: in 2035 new cars and vans must have zero emissions.”
The vote comes after weeks of negotiations in which Germany lobbied for a carveout for e-fuels, which are made by combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide that has been scrubbed from the atmosphere in a process run on renewable power. Because e-fuels make use of captured carbon, they are considered carbon neutral. The EU agreed to grant the exemption, which will allow the sale of combustion vehicles that run only on e-fuels after 2035.
Around a quarter of EU emissions come from transport. The new law will require a 55 percent drop in carbon emissions across new car fleets by 2030. By 2035, all new cars must produce zero carbon dioxide.
Poland voted against the new law, saying it would drive up car prices, while Bulgaria, Romania, and Italy abstained. Italy had pushed for an exemption for biofuels, which was not granted, Reuters reports.
The exemption for e-fuels drew criticism from some on the environmental left. “The automotive sector has wholeheartedly embraced electric cars, rendering the previous debate on the matter absurd and damaging Germany’s credibility,” said Michael Bloss of Germany’s Green Party. “It is now time to make reparations.”