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ENVI-vote a “bitter setback for consumers and climate protection”

ENVI-vote a “bitter setback for consumers and climate protection”
On March 30, 2023, the Council and European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive (photo courtesy EP Audiovisual Services).

On May 11, 2022, the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) voted on stricter carbon dioxide emission standards for new cars and vans without an amendment to count carbon dioxide savings from sustainable renewable fuels toward fleet targets for new cars. Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance criticizes ENVI's rejection of flexible technology mix in road transport as a "bitter setback for consumers and climate protection."

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The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its position on proposed rules to revise the carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance standards for new cars and vans in line with the EU’s increased climate ambition.

This regulation encourages the production of zero- and low-emission vehicles. With CO2 standards, we create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers. In addition, purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers. This is especially important now that the prices of diesel and petrol continue to rise. This regulation makes sustainable driving accessible to everyone, said rapporteur Jan Huitema (Renew, NL).

In the report, MEPs expressed their support for the Commission’s proposal to reach zero-emission road mobility by 2035.

Proposed measures adopted by ENVI include:

  • removing the incentive mechanism for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV), as it no longer serves its original purpose;
  • a report by the Commission on the progress towards zero-emission road mobility by the end of 2025 and on a yearly basis thereafter, covering the impact on consumers and employment, the level of renewable energy use as well as information on the market for second-hand vehicles;
  • gradually reducing the cap for eco-innovation, in line with the proposed stricter targets (the existing 7g CO2/km limit should remain until 2024, followed by 5g from 2025, 4g from 2027, and 2g until the end of 2034);
  • a report by the Commission, by the end of 2023, detailing the need for targeted funding to ensure a just transition in the automotive sector, to mitigate negative employment and other economic impacts;
  • a common EU methodology by the Commission, by 2023, for assessing the full life cycle of CO2 emissions of cars and vans placed on the EU market, as well as for the fuels and energy consumed by these vehicles.

Bitter setback for consumers

An amendment to count CO2 savings from sustainable renewable fuels toward fleet targets for new cars was narrowly rejected by only 3 votes.

Had it been adopted, this would have offered consumers another climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuel cars.

Now the vote in the EU Parliament is on the agenda for June 7.

Maintaining the EU cap on sustainable biofuels will create a gap that will be filled by fossil fuels. We believe renewable ethanol can be part of the solution – and we’re not alone, commented the European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) on social media.

In its response to ENVI’s adoption, the eFuel Alliance expressed disappointment.

This is a bitter setback for consumers and climate protection! Without the consideration of renewable fuels in combustion engines, a flexible technology mix in road transport is rejected, which includes all climate-friendly options to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels, said Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance.

Diemer highlights the one-sided focus on e-mobility and the rejection of flexible technologies as a cut in consumer choice for transportation decarbonization.

Cutting emissions and not choices – that should be the guiding principle of European climate policy. Members of the European Parliament should take into account the contribution that sustainable renewable fuels like eFuels can make to reduce transport emissions when they vote, Diemer underlined.

In addition, affordability and security are also questionable.

Ralf Diemer, eFuel Alliance
“On the one hand, not everyone in the EU will be able to afford an electric car in the future either. On the other hand, the Ukraine war and the resulting energy crisis we are facing today show us that fixation on a single option can lead to dangerous dependencies if the global economic system falters. To ensure that Europe does not slip into another crisis when it comes to importing battery raw materials, we need to take a broad stance and offer other climate-friendly solutions alongside the expansion of e-mobility, such as the use of CO2-neutral eFuels,” Ralf Diemer said (photo courtesy eFuel Alliance).

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), China processes 87 percent of the world’s rare earth deposits, 65 percent of cobalt, 58 percent of lithium, and 40 percent of copper.

Instead of pitting climate protection technologies against each other, we need to focus on phasing out fossil fuels. A voluntary crediting system, where CO2 emission savings from renewable fuels count towards EU fleet targets for new vehicles, would allow for a technology mix of climate-friendly solutions that could complement European electrification efforts. This will accelerate the defossilisation of transport while keeping mobility affordable, Ralf Diemer explained.

Graphic of a crediting system of renewable fuels
A schematic of a crediting system of renewable fuels (graphic courtesy eFuel Alliance).

The current EU regulation on CO2 standards for cars and vans will not ensure a timely transition to climate-neutral mobility by focusing exclusively on tailpipe emissions.

This is because emissions that occur in earlier or later stages of a vehicle’s life cycle, such as during vehicle manufacture or during the generation and provision of operating electricity, are not taken into account.

The European electricity mix is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Nevertheless, an e-car charged with electricity generated predominantly from fossil fuels is still considered a zero-emission vehicle under the current regulation.

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