EU proposes phasing out new internal combustion cars by 2035

The European Union has proposed phasing out gas-powered internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, part of a sweeping new plan to drastically reduce carbon emissions on the continent.

If passed, the legislation would require a 55 percent cut in overall CO2 emissions from new vehicles by 2030 compared to current levels. As it stands, the EU only currently requires a 37.5 percent cut by 2030 — which is weaker than even the United States is targeting. By 2035, though, the EU proposes a 100 percent cut, effectively banning new gas and even hybrid cars.

The effective ban would be an effective tool for cleaning up air pollution, as passenger cars make up about 12 percent of the total CO2 emissions in the EU. It would also be a big boost to all-electric vehicles, and the companies that have committed the most money to developing them like Volkswagen, which says it wants half of its total vehicles sold in 2030 to be fully electric.

To support the switch to electric, the EU said Wednesday in its proposal that it wants member countries to install public charging stations no more than 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) apart on major roads by 2025. The EU ultimately expects 3.5 million new charging stations by 2030 and 16.3 million by 2050.

The proposal, which was developed by the EU’s executive branch, must be approved by the entire 27-country bloc. Some countries have already announced similarly aggressive targets, and a handful of automakers have laid out a roadmap for phasing out new gas-powered vehicles on the continent as well. But there could be resistance. France, for instance, is currently targeting an internal combustion phase-out by 2040 and is looking for more wiggle room on hybrids.

Outside the EU, the United Kingdom has announced plans to ban the sale of new combustion engine cars by 2030, while California is looking to do the same by 2035. The EU’s regulations are particularly important, though, because it is home to many of the world’s biggest automakers.

At the federal level in the United States, President Joe Biden has started to unwind Trump-era decisions to weaken vehicle emissions standards. In April, he moved to restore California’s power to set its own standards, and later this year, his administration is expected to set average fuel economy standards of 51 miles per gallon by 2026.