The European Parliament on Tuesday approved legislation that would ban the sale of new cars and vans that emit carbon dioxide emissions by 2035, meaning vehicles still equipped with internal combustion engines would effectively be banned across the EU.

The rules call for a mid-term target of reducing CO2 emissions from new cars by 55% from 2021 levels by 2030, with an eventual target of 100% by 2035. For vans, the reduction will be 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

The European Commission first proposed in 2021 a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles by 2035 as part of the EU’s overall plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The European Council must now formally approve the rule before it can be passed into law.

Unlike similar programs in California and New York that classify certain plug-in hybrids as zero-emission vehicles, the EU aims to promote pure electric vehicles, including battery and hydrogen electric vehicles.

In the EU, however, there may be some life left in internal combustion engines for light vehicles. Since the rule focuses on CO2 emissions, rather than the type of powertrain, Germany is seeking to introduce a possible loophole for combustion-engined vehicles using carbon-neutral fuels such as hydrogen or synthetic fuels.

In addition, automakers producing less than 10,000 vehicles per year will be able to negotiate weaker targets until 100% must be met by 2036. Any automaker producing less than 1,000 vehicles a year will be exempted entirely.

“These goals create clarity for the auto industry and spur innovation and investment by automakers,” Dutch politician Jan Huitema said in a statement. “It will become cheaper for consumers to buy and drive a zero-emissions car, and the used market will emerge more quickly.”

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