European Union Solidifies Global Leadership with Climate Plan

The European Union (EU) recently stated its goal of banning the sale of new vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine by 2035, part of a larger plan to combat climate change. (Volvo)

The European Union (EU) announced sweeping new plans to address the effects of climate change, outlining new goals that could affect almost every sector of its economy—most starkly in its automotive sector. Among the most dramatic is its goal of banning the sale of vehicles equipped with an internal combustion engine by 2035.

According to this plan, in just a few short years, all new vehicles sold in the EU will be fully electric. This positions companies like Volvo, who already have plans to sell only electric vehicles (EVs), at an advantage, as they don’t have to scramble to meet future mandates. To legislate EV sales, countries within the EU must install EV charging stations at least every 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) on public roads by 2025.

Another far-reaching goal is to cut carbon emissions from cars by 55 percent from current levels; previously, the goal was 37.5 percent. But, of course, these are initial plans, and actual legislation, especially with 27 individual nations within the EU, will take negotiation over the next two years.

Thus far, the EU has managed to cut emissions by 24 percent between 1990 and 2019. According to an article by the New York Times, the EU currently produces 8 percent of global emissions but sees itself as setting a positive example for the rest of the world in creating an economy that doesn’t exacerbate climate change.

To level the playing field for nations that abide by the regulations, the EU would impose tariffs on goods imported from countries with looser restrictions on emissions. Other mandates that the EU outlined include plans to require 38.5 percent of all energy be from renewables such as solar, nuclear, or wind by 2030, increasing charges for using fossil fuels and the ensuing carbon emissions. The EU would set some of those funds aside to purchase climate-friendly transport and heating systems for those who may not be able to afford them.

The United States is also attempting to enact some significant changes to control emissions, albeit in a patchwork manner. For example, the Biden administration aims to reduce U.S. emissions by 40 to 43 percent by 2035, while California hopes to achieve climate neutrality by 2045. Meanwhile, China, the most significant contributor to carbon emissions, has said its peak emissions will be in 2030, with no further details provided about its plans to cut carbon reductions.

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