In a bid to strengthen its collective commitment to reduce fossil fuel emissions and protect the environment, European lawmakers recently voted to ban the sale of new gas and diesel-powered vehicles within the European Union from 2035 onward.

At the June 15 session of the European Parliament, 339 of its ministers voted in favor of the ban proposed by the European Commission. On the other hand, 249 voted against the initiative, and 24 other ministers abstained.

In doing so, the EU is now a step closer to ensuring carbon neutrality on its major roads and thoroughfares. It hopes to ensure that vehicular emissions will be down by 50% by the end of the current decade and that all privately-owned cars and light commercial vehicles will be carbon-free by 2035.

Even though it is no longer part of the EU, the United Kingdom is embarking on a similar measure by putting a stop to the sale of new diesel and gas-powered cars by 2030. The UK also expects new vehicles purchased from 2035 onwards to be completely emission-free.

Currently, passenger cars, vans, and similar modes of transportation account for around 2.5% to 12% of the EU’s total carbon emissions.

A Good Plan

Jan Huitema, one of the Netherlands’ ministers in parliament and a member of the Renew Europe Group, hailed the result of the vote. He stated that the EP is doing the right thing by supporting a more ambitious approach to meeting its 2030 targets for carbon neutrality and pushing for 100% five years hence. For Huitema, both targets are key stepping stones for attaining a true zero-carbon economy within the region by 2050.

Alex Keynes, clean vehicles manager for the industrial campaign group Transport & Environment in Belgium, shared Huitema’s sentiments. He said that putting a deadline on the sale of fossil fuel-using cars gives the EU a fighting chance at preventing serious damage due to climate change. Keynes added that the proposal would also enable the automotive industry to ramp up the production of electric vehicles and subsequently make prices friendlier for the common market.

However, not everyone is rejoicing over the result of the vote. BMW’s chief executive officer Oliver Zipse stated that the automotive sector is already working on meeting the growing demand for clean power-using electric vehicles. But he added that the ongoing volatility and uncertainty his industry and many others are experiencing daily would make the imposition of such carbon-neutral goals premature at present.