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Has Europe banned the combustion engine?

Maximum confusion in Brussels whether the sale of cars and small vans with an internal combustion engine will be actually banned from 2035. And what about motorcycles?

On Thursday 27 October 2022, the European Commission, European Parliament, and the member states, united in the Council of the European Union, reached an agreement in the so-called trilogue about the emission limits for cars and vans. After a few steps to lower the emission of the fleet, from 2035 the sale of new cars that have no zero CO2-emission will be banned in the European Union.

Many parties, especially NGOs like Transport & Environment, who have lobbied for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for years and the Greens in the European Parliament celebrated this as a victory of electric vehicles against vehicles with an internal combustion engine and said that this meant that this was a ban on combustion engines. Consequently, this would not only affect cars and vans, but also motorcycles. However, the agreement does not state that motorcycles could not be sold from 2035. It states: “The agreement includes wording on CO2 neutral fuels whereby following consultation with stakeholders, the Commission will make a proposal for registering vehicles running exclusively on CO2-neutral fuels after 2035 in conformity with EU law, outside the scope of the fleet standards, and in conformity with the EU’s climate neutrality objective.” In our view, this means that new vehicles with an internal combustion engine, including motorcycles, that run on eFuels or hydrogen can still be sold after 2035, but that the European Commission must provide the legislative framework for this.

‘FEMA will resist any attempt to ban the internal combustion engine for motorcycles.’

Dolf Willigers, FEMA’s General Secretary.

Dolf Willigers, FEMA’s General Secretary, said: “It is (now) only cars and vans that run on fossil fuels (petrol, Diesel) that may no longer be sold after 2035. From experience, and signals from the European Commission, we know that the chance that motorcycles will escape this fate is very small. Nevertheless, FEMA will resist any attempt to ban the internal combustion engine for motorcycles. In our view, the emissions of motorcycles are already negligible and the alternatives for both fossil fuels and electricity are still in the development phase. To focus solely on battery electric vehicles the problems of air quality and climate chance will just be redeemed to other, equal serious problems: the social and environmental aspects of the mining of raw materials that are needed to make batteries and the geo-political consequences of getting dependent to countries like China to acquire these raw materials and the batteries should not be underestimated. Already, a delegation of members from the EPP party in the European Parliament has asked questions about this to the European Commission and asked how the Commission thinks to decrease the dependency of other countries. To give room to other options like eFuels, Europe can be the forerunner in the development of valuable alternative techniques.”

Written by Wim Taal

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