Europe proposes to ban internal combustion cars by 2035

Last week, the European Union proposed to ban the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles from 2035. With several member countries proposing restrictions in the coming years, EU leaders believe that they can speed up the timetable to force electric vehicles as a de facto mode of transportation. . The European Commission has suggested making the sale of gasoline or diesel vehicles illegal in 14 years, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions from cars by 55% (from 2021 levels) by 2030.

But countries that still produce vehicles have expressed reservations about the lineup. France fully agrees to impose restrictions that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although President Emmanuel Macron’s office has insisted that hybrid vehicles be able to do the heavy lifting and fears that an outright ban on internal combustion could cripple the industry if carried out too soon. Germany, which manufactures more vehicles than other EU member states, agrees.

“I think all car and truck manufacturers are aware of the arrival of more stringent specifications. But they must be technically feasible, ”German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer explained to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

German manufacturers have reported a transition to electric vehicles stronger than almost everyone. But regional regulators have expressed concerns about the accelerating timeframe. This has been especially true for Scheuer, who remains concerned about what is actually achievable. He proposed phasing out fossil fuel combustion by 2035, only if synthetic fuels can be perfected to a point that wouldn’t force ICEs off the road.

There are concerns that synthetic fuels are not energy efficient enough to be produced with confidence and will ultimately cause more pollution than battery-powered automobiles. But that depends entirely on the advancement of both technologies and how the infrastructure is set up. For example, Germany’s aversion to nuclear power led it to build a plethora of coal-fired power plants to offset renewable sources that ultimately reduced air quality. Supplying electricity to a coal-dependent area is not better for the environment, especially if the area has to build thousands of EV charging points to make it possible. In contrast, synthetic fuels can use our existing fueling infrastructure. But they suffer from some of the pitfalls shared with hydrogen (strong losses in efficiency during production) and remain dependent on access to fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, the studies tend to support the industry that commissioned them in the first place. Although there is enough evidence to suggest that the greener solutions tender be the most localized. Manufacturing (or disposing of) batteries is not really good for the environment, nor is shipping them around the world. And the same goes for fuel refinement. If you are drilling crude oil to send it halfway around the world to be refined and sent back, then you are unnecessarily expanding your carbon footprint. But this is a fairly normal practice in developed countries.

These issues are often more about perception and finances than deciding what is possible or what technologies / practices will deliver the lowest total amount of pollution. This is often embodied in the blind faith environmental activists seem to place in electric vehicles and the willingness of manufacturers to woo them while keeping internal combustion vehicles perpetually on the bridge.

“This is the kind of ambition we expected from the EU, where it has been lacking in recent years,” said Helen Clarkson, managing director of The Climate Group, a non-profit group that openly collaborates with business. and the government in a complicated ethical mess, told Reuters.

“Science tells us we need to halve emissions by 2030, so for road transport it’s simple: get rid of the internal combustion engine.”

The truth is, the science is extremely complicated and the European Union has been one of the biggest supporters of the switch to electric vehicles, even though some of its other environmental actions have backfired horribly in the past.

While we have already mentioned air quality in Germany, the best example has to be Europe’s old love affair with diesel. In the early 1990s, the continent operated on the premise that diesel-powered vehicles tended to be more economical than their gasoline-powered counterparts and therefore needed to be less polluting for the environment. Governments prioritized fuel accordingly and diesel passenger vehicles became the norm. Two decades later, Europe is still reeling from this soot error, even though diesel technology has improved dramatically thanks to the unbridled support it has received. Electrification could have a similar future if it is not adopted responsibly – ditto for synthetic fuels, hydrogen or any other quick fix to our perpetual hunger for the planet’s resources.

What we are relatively certain is that the introduction of alternative energy solutions has required billions of dollars and will cost billions more if Europe is to truly meet these targets. The Plateforme Automobile (PFA), the main lobby for the French industry, estimates that an additional 17.5 billion euros (20.8 billion US dollars) will have to be spent in the middle of the next decade to continue to develop infrastructure necessary to facilitate the desired changes. Germany is probably considering three times that amount, with some analysts suggesting that EU lobbying measures are far too conservative. The European Commission already assumes that simply building the necessary charging infrastructure will require more than $ 100 billion by 2040.

Electrification will also lead to widespread job losses, with PFA suggesting that France would cut 100,000 auto-related jobs (more than half of the industry’s current strength) by 2035. The workforce Germany’s much larger auto work would likely lose that number several times over.

Although the industry usually expresses a strong commitment to electrification in press materials, lobby groups tend to oppose governments banning the sale of any type of vehicle. Most tell the EU that a blended approach is best, with automakers continuing to pursue all technologies until the market decides on a clear winner. This continued to be true after the commission released its latest proposal, reminding us that what is said is not always indicative of what is done. This does not necessarily mean that the blended approach is bad. But it reminds us that it’s often easier to use a solution that feels good or sounds good than it is to spend more time figuring out what will actually be best, whether in terms of consumer needs. , financial reports or what’s going on in our atmosphere.

Then again, your author stupidly assumes that these are serious conversations when there is overwhelming evidence that manufacturers and government actors are simply making arbitrary environmental or technological promises that are ultimately forgotten and reintroduced five years more. late as if they were entirely new concepts.

[Image: JL IMAGES/Shutterstock]

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Kevin A. Perras

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