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EU delays vote on combustion car ban after Germany insists on e-fuels exemption



A crucial EU vote on car fleet emissions that would spell a de-facto 2035 combustion engine ban will be delayed after German government members said they would not endorse the regulation without exceptions.

Following a statement by German Finance minister Christian Lindner from the government coalition party Free Democrats (FDP) that his party would not agree to the planned car emission rules in their current form, the Swedish EU presidency announced that the EU Council vote planned on 7 March would be postponed, without specifying the length of the delay.

“It’s our goal that new cars with combustion engines can be registered in Germany after 2035,” Lindner said. Since other countries, including Italy, Poland and Bulgaria, also plan to vote against the proposed regulation, getting a majority for the proposal looks set to depend on Germany’s vote.

Lindner argued that the EU Commission had not presented any proposals on how exceptions could be incorporated into a final deal on emissions limits. Lindner added that these cars then would have to run on “climate friendly eco-fuels” and stressed that Germany “must retain the technological know-how” it has for combustion engines.

The FDP leader’s position is in line with that of FDP transport minister Volker Wissing, who recently insisted that combustion engines which run on so called e-fuels should also play a role after the target year.

The synthetic fuels would also be needed to reduce emissions in the existing car fleet, Wissing said.

The FDP’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party, both reject the idea to compromise on the EU car emissions limits.

SPD parliamentary group deputy Detlef Müller said his party “favours a clear decision at an EU level that does not put the end of combustion engines into question.” E-fuels would be an expensive, inefficient and limited alternative that does not help the country reach its transport sector emissions reduction targets.

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