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Will EU Ban the Internal-Combustion Engine?

Denmark proposes phase-out of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in Europe by 2030
Photograph: Shutterstock

BRUSSELS  In the latest sign of an overseas shift away from the internal combustion engine (ICE), Denmark has called for the European Union (EU) to develop a plan to phase out gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles and allow the 28 individual EU member states to enact their own sales bans by 2030.

The proposal from Denmark, which was supported by 10 other EU countries, occurred during an October meeting of EU environment ministers, Reuters reported. It comes as Ursula van der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission—the executive branch of the EU—has proposed making Europe the first “climate-neutral” continent by 2050.

To accomplish this goal, Denmark’s representatives argued that the EU needs to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, which has been increasing emissions while other sectors are decreasing theirs. The EU’s goal is to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 to help tackle climate change; the European Commission aims to shrink emissions to 0% by 2050.

“We need to acknowledge that we are in a bit of a hurry,” Dan Jorgensen, Danish Climate and Energy Minister, told Reuters.

In 2018, Denmark announced it would ban the sale of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in 2030, joining other EU countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Norway and the Netherlands, which have announced plans for similar bans. Denmark later dropped its proposed ban because it would have violated EU rules, although it is not clear whether the other countries’ plans were also in violation.

By allowing individual EU member states to ban sales of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, this should apply pressure on the European Commission to develop its own plan for a complete phase-out in the EU, Jorgensen said. If the EU cannot agree on a ban covering the entire body, then individual countries should be allowed to introduce their own ban, he said.

“Plan A would be to make it a European ban,” he said.

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