The meeting of the representatives of the member states postponed the adoption of the regulation banning the sale of new petrol or diesel cars from 2035. The impasse is due to the decision of Italy and Germany which, surprisingly, asked to revise the agreement , aligning with Poland and Hungary. The decision forced the EU to postpone what until a few days ago was expected to be a ritual vote to confirm the provision.
Berlin has called for cars that use eco-fuels to be exempt from the ban. This would offer a lifeline to Germany’s auto industry, which is home to auto giants such as Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz and generates about a fifth of the country’s industrial revenues. Italy, which is a major auto parts producer, also fears being hurt by the deal.
Disagreement on the ban on polluting cars by 2035
“The European provision has a major flaw: it does not consider the negative effects of a too-fast transition to electric mobility. If we proceed too hastily, we risk having an unbalanced energy mix which perhaps will lead to the production of a lot of energy from coal, while the European energy mix is currently the most sustainable in the world” says Massimiliano Salini of Forza Italia.
The forced deputy refers to the set of energy sources used to produce energy. An electric car, to be considered 100% green, must be powered by energy produced with renewable sources. According to Salini, the rush to stop the production of internal combustion engine cars could have the effect of negatively modifying the European energy mix. The paradoxical result that Salini fears is that there is an increase in energy derived from coal to power green vehicles, with a counterproductive effect on the environmental level.
“It is obvious that if we were to use coal-fired plants to produce electricity it would be a negative thing, but it will never be like this!”, replies the MEP of Italia Viva Nicola Danti. “This is because the European provision on cars is part of an overall framework of decisions that aim to make the production of electricity in the Union more sustainable than it already is”, he says.
The electric car and the challenge of eco-fuels
Eco-fuels are considered a valid alternative to the electric car by those who oppose the ban on internal combustion engine cars in Europe. These products are made using electricity obtained with mode greens, for example using green hydrogen. Although cars that use these fuels continue to pollute, overall the CO2 emitted using these products is much lower than with traditional fuels.
According to Salini of the EPP, the European decision on cars risks blocking research on ecofuels “because left-green politics is directing Europe towards their abandonment”, he says. A phenomenon that according to the MEP would create more risks than advantages for the environment.
For Nicola Danti of Renew this danger would be almost absent: “I am convinced that research on eco-fuels will continue regardless of the ban on combustion cars because these products are essential for sectors that cannot be electrified such as ships and aircraft”. He says.
The electric revolution and the employment problem
The Italian and German industry have a key sector in the automotive sector, which is why the concern of job losses due to the energy transition is strong in these countries. The Italia Viva MP cites the European energy transition plan (Fit for 55) to argue that job losses will largely be averted.
“The internal combustion engine car will not disappear “tomorrow morning”. For another 20-30 years, internal combustion engines registered before 2035 will still circulate on our roads. Despite this, the EU has planned huge investments in the development of new supply chains Certainly some jobs will be lost, but many new ones will also be created”, says Danti. Massimiliano Salini is of a different opinion according to which the conversion of jobs from the traditional automotive sector to the electric one would not be taken for granted.
According to Motus-E, a non-profit organization interested in the development of electric mobility, the number of jobs at risk in Italy in the energy conversion process would be limited.