EU deal on car CO2 standards leaves door ajar for e-fuels

(EurActiv, 1 Jul 2022) The decision by EU countries in the early hours of Wednesday (29 June) to ban the sale of polluting vehicles by 2035 was widely seen as a death sentence for the internal combustion engine in the EU.

But a clause inserted into the deal during late-night negotiations among ministers in the EU’s Environment Council is being viewed by some in the fuels industry as a partial reprieve.

Tabled by Germany and backed by EU member states reluctant to accept the 2035 cut-off date, the clause obliges the European Commission to prepare a report by 2026 that looks into technologies such as “plug-in hybrids” and “CO2 neutral fuels”.

This report must “[take] into account technological developments, including as regards plug-in hybrid technologies,” says the text of the agreement, which was made public on Thursday (30 June).

Additional language inserted in the preamble of the draft regulation provides further leeway for e-fuels: “Following consultation with stakeholders, the Commission will make a proposal for registering after 2035 vehicles running exclusively on CO2 neutral fuels in conformity with EU law, outside the scope of the fleet standards, and in conformity with the Union’s climate neutrality objective,” says a newly inserted paragraph (9a).

The phrase “outside the scope of the fleet standards” is being interpreted by commentators as an allowance for specialty vehicles to use CO2 neutral fuels, such as ambulances and fire engines.

External link

EurActiv, 1 Jul 2022: EU deal on car CO2 standards leaves door ajar for e-fuels