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European Parliament vote a one-sided focus on e-cars

European Parliament vote a one-sided focus on e-cars
Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance (photo courtesy eFuel Alliance).

The European Parliament has delivered a setback for consumers and climate protection says the eFuel Alliance. A majority of MEPs voted to ban vehicles with internal combustion engines, rejecting a technology mix in road transport that – alongside e-mobility – would embrace all climate-friendly ways to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels.

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If the European Parliament (EP) has its way, conventional cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs) will be banned in Europe from 2035.

A majority of MEPs approved an electrification-only strategy, as proposed by Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) last month, for road transport in their vote on stricter carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for new cars and vans on June 8, 2022.

Cutting emissions, not choices – this should be the guiding principle of European climate policy. Unfortunately, many MEPs have opted for exactly the opposite, simply ignoring the key role that sustainable renewable fuels like eFuels can play in reducing transport emissions, said Dr Monika Griefahn, Chair of the eFuel Alliance.

An amendment, also considered at the EP’s plenary session on June 8, 2022, to count the CO2 savings of sustainable renewable fuels towards the fleet targets of new cars, failed by only 44 votes.

Had it passed, this would have offered consumers another climate-friendly alternative to fossil-fuelled cars.

Instead of pitting climate protection technologies against each other, we must focus on phasing out the use of fossil fuels, said Dr Monika Griefahn.

A voluntary crediting system counting CO2 emission savings from renewable fuels towards EU fleet targets for new vehicles would have allowed for a technology mix of climate-friendly solutions that could complement Europe’s electrification efforts. This would speed up the decarbonization of transport while respecting the diverse realities of people’s needs, Dr Monika Griefahn said.

Focus on tailpipes misses emissions

By focusing solely on tailpipe emissions, the current EU regulation on CO2 standards for cars and vans will not ensure a timely transition to climate-neutral mobility.

This is because emissions that occur in earlier or later phases of a vehicle’s life cycle, such as during the production of the vehicle or the generation and provision of its operating power, are being ignored.

The EU’s electricity mix is still heavily dependent on fossil energies (37 percent in 2021) – in countries such as Poland, fossil energy carriers even account for more than 80 percent of electricity generation.

Yet, an e-car that is charged with predominantly fossil fuel-generated electricity still qualifies as a zero-emission vehicle under the current regulation.

Moreover, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the dangers for European societies and economies of energy-related dependence on non-European nations.

We should actually have learned the lessons from recent events and not now knowingly exchange dependence on energy suppliers for a new dependence on raw materials for battery production, Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance warned.

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.

However, the end of the internal combustion engine is not yet a done deal. The Environment Council is currently busy revising the regulation – a General Approach is still pending.

It is now up to national governments in the European Council to take responsibility and mitigate this risk by diversifying the way we future-proof European mobility. This is why we must acknowledge the contribution that eFuels can make to the energy transition in the passenger car sector, ended Ralf Diemer.

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