Germany and the European Union have set a new precedent for the future of combustion-engine vehicles. Germany will continue to allow the registration of new combustion-engine cars indefinitely, provided the engines exclusively use climate-neutral fuel, dubbed “e-fuel” by EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans.
E-fuels, or synthetic fuels — which include the likes of e-methane, e-kerosene and e-methanol — are created by synthesizing captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen produced using renewable or CO2-free electricity. The process itself is energy-intensive, and studies have shown that emissions of potent greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide increase when e-fuels are burned. Additionally, conventional GHGs are still released with the burning of e-fuels.
The agreement is a result of an initial EU proposal to ban the sale of all new combustion-engine vehicles starting in 2035. Germany opposed the language, arguing a complete ban on combustion engines would harm the country’s auto industry.
Many parties have denounced the agreement. Benjamin Stephan, a mobility expert at Greenpeace, said, “This rotten compromise undermines climate protection in transport, and it harms Europe.”
Alex Keynes, clean vehicles manager at NGO T&E, told the Guardian, “[German] Chancellor [Olaf] Scholz is threatening to pull the rug from under the European Green Deal for the sake of saving polluting combustion engines.”
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