The German government has reached a deal with the European Union to allow the sale of vehicles that burn fuels made from renewable energy after 2035, resolving a dispute that threatened to scupper a key element of the bloc’s path toward climate neutrality.
Volker Wessing, Germany’s transport minister, said on Saturday that Berlin had obtained assurances from negotiators that the new vehicle rules would be technology-neutral, allowing the use of carbon-free synthetic fuels, known as e-fuels. Germany has been pushing for an exception to the European Union’s proposed 2035 ban on internal combustion engines.
“This paves the way for combustion-engine vehicles that use only CO2-neutral fuels to be newly registered after 2035,” said Volker Wessing.
“In the first step, the e-fuel-only vehicle category will be created and later incorporated into the Fleet Determination Regulation,” he said. He said the full process would be completed by the fall of 2024.
Berlin’s decision in early March to seek changes to EU legislation on the eve of a final vote has caused a rift among EU governments and threatens to undermine legislation that is a cornerstone of the EU’s ambitious plans to form the 27-nation bloc. Carbon neutral by 2050.
Germany’s position has been supported by some automakers, including Porsche, but has drawn criticism from other manufacturers who have begun spending huge sums to shift their production towards electric cars in anticipation of the ban.
The vote can now take place on Tuesday when energy ministers meet in Brussels. Many other countries, including Italy and the Czech Republic, that opposed the legislation would not be able to reach enough votes to prevent its passage. Italy wanted more assurances, including how cars that use biofuels could also be excluded.
“We will now act to adopt CO2 standards to regulate cars as soon as possible, and the Commission will quickly follow up on the necessary legal steps,” said Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s vice-president who oversees the bloc’s push for climate neutrality, he said on Twitter.
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