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European Union Proposes Aggressive Emissions Cuts by 2030

Several Aggressive Provisions Discussed (and Might Actually be Feasible)

Emissions cuts: Gas fuel pumps
Image c. Shutterstock

On Wednesday, the European Union met in London and proposed gradual but aggressive emissions cuts – 55% over the next 9 years and 100% over the next 14. Recently, several American companies have made headlines with bold electrification plans. But so far, the EU’s package, which consists of close to a dozen proposals, stands as the most stringent and time-sensitive rollout to fossil fuel cuts.

The EU’s Emissions Cuts Proposals

The proposal would make sales of new petrol-powered automobiles illegal. That’s something that many authorities on the matter say is an impossible stretch goal. Instead, a rapid phase-in to the targets is more realistic. Such a phase-in would utilize gasoline engines, electric, hybrid, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to transition to a virtually zero-emission future.

As part of its discussion over new regulations, the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, volleyed the following provisions, among others:

  • Installation of EV charging stations along every 37 miles (60 km) of major roads
  • A 55% cut in carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 2030
  • A moratorium on the definition of ‘plug-in hybrids,’ which will qualify as “low-emission” vehicles until 2030
  • A 100% cut in carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles by 2035
  • Implementation of 3.5 million EV charging stations for passenger vehicles by 2030; 16 million stations by 2050

Before detailing any rubric or legal standards, EU member states and the Parliament will have to debate, attenuate, and agree to the Commission’s propositions. The process will likely take between 18 and 24 months.

Image c. Shutterstock

EV Charging Infrastructure

Lack of charging infrastructure has been identified as a major sticking point for many consumers in the block of 27 countries. Even if all-electric vehicles become more widely affordable, there’s anxiety about range due to the vast and unpatterned spread between so many charging stations across Europe. The sweeping changes would incorporate a policy to install public charging stations every 37 miles by 2025.

Automakers have previously indicated that they would only work under bolder CO2 regulations if charging infrastructure received enough public interest to support such major emissions cuts. But, according to Reuters, the numbers might already be lining up: “Low-emission car sales surged in Europe last year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic knocked overall vehicle sales, and one in every nine new cars sold was an electric or plug-in hybrid.”

Image c. Shutterstock

The Cost of Zero Emissions

The European Commission has floated ballpark figures for the spending required to get EV charging infrastructure up and running: 80-120 billion euros over a 20-year time frame.

According to IHS Markit, automakers that don’t fully transition to all-electric models by 2030 will be hung out to dry. “It is clear that if these stretch goals are implemented as solid proposals to be voted into legislation, that carmakers that have been bolder and invested heavily earlier on in electrification will have a significant advantage.”

AlixPartners projects that manufacturers and wholesalers worldwide will invest upwards of $300 billion in EVs and supporting EV tech over the next 3.5 years. Last year,  that number was estimated at just $250 billion.

The EU’s climate change policy leader, Frans Timmermans, had this to say: “The transition to electric vehicles is going much faster than anybody had ever anticipated, but then we are under an obligation to create the right incentives for that.”

For the full press release, visit the European Commission’s site here.


About Jilli Cluff

Jilli is a contributor and editor brought up on four-wheelers and country roads. Her true introduction to the automotive world came in 2006 with the purchase of her first car — a near-mint 1972 VW Squareback. In 2016, she obtained motorcycle licensure and bought her first bike — a humble Honda Rebel. She's been enamored with bikes ever since. Jilli is currently based out of Austin, Texas, where she takes up residence with her one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.