EU must ban new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 to meet carbon targets

The EU must end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, a new report has shown. Unless the automotive industry drastically changes the European car fleet, it will exceed its carbon budget within 10 years.

If no more purely petrol or diesel-powered cars are sold from 2030 and, from 2037, no more hybrid vehicles with combustion engines, there is a 50 per cent probability of meeting the Paris climate target.

These are the findings of a study conducted by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which warned that new petrol and diesel car sales must be banned by 2030 to limit global warming to the agreed levels.

The DLR used data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to develop two scenarios. The first described a 50 per cent likelihood of keeping global warming below the Paris target, and the second set a probability of 66 per cent.

In both scenarios, the scientists assumed a theoretically remaining carbon budget, which they calculated based on the current emissions of the transport sector. The remaining carbon budgets for the 28 EU member states plus Switzerland and Norway are six gigatons in the 50-per cent scenario and 3.6 in the 66-per cent scenario.

While the 50-per cent scenario is still achievable, according to the scientists, the 66-per cent version is not – despite extremely progressive assumptions about the development of the car fleet: the last new petrol or diesel-powered cars would be sold in 2025.

“Both scenarios highlight the extreme urgency of the topic, as well as the need to consider and implement all available courses of action as quickly as possible,” said DLR researcher Bent van den Adel in a statement.

If, however, Europe’s car fleet continues to develop as before, DLR researchers estimate that the passenger car carbon budget for EU28+2 would be completely depleted in the 50 per cent scenario within 10 years. In the 66 per cent scenario this would be reduced to five years.

For both scenarios, the DLR researchers assumed that no low-carbon fuels are available and all potential vehicle technology solutions for saving carbon dioxide have been fully exploited.

Photo credit: Jeronimo Perez/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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