Policy Overview

The EU CO2 Standard 2019/631 for passenger cars and vans (CO2 Standards) legislates increasing CO2 emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2035 for new vehicles to reduce the climate impact of the automotive sector. The revision was proposed in September 2020 by the EU Commission and a public consultation was launched to gather stakeholder views in October 2020.

Policy Progressing

Despite a concerted effort from the automotive and oil and gas sectors to weaken the revision of the CO2 Standards, the EU Commission’s proposal increased the 2030 target and legislated a zero-emission target by 2035, although shorter term targets were not increased. This position is supported by the EU Parliament and the EU Council.

InfluenceMap Query

GHG Emission Regulation

Policy Status

Under consideration: proceeding to trilogues after votes in EU Parliament and Council.

European Parliament: ENVI Committee Rapporteur: Jan Huitema (Renew) European Council: Environment Council

Evidence Profile

131140443480

European Commission

European Parliament

European Council

Lobbying Overview

Overview of Corporate and Industry Lobbying

The aggregated evidence of corporate and industry lobbying on the update of the CO2 Standards shows intense, negative engagement from the automotive sector and oil and gas industry, yet with supportive lobbying from the utilities sector.

Long-term Lobbying Trends

The automotive and oil and gas sectors opposed a 2035 zero-emissions target and higher ambitions for 2025 and 2030 target dates. Associations such as the German Automotive Association (VDA) stressed higher costs and job losses, and FuelsEurope was unsupportive of a CO2 standard that would phase out ICE-powered vehicles.

Automotive associations have lobbied for the inclusion of road transport in the EU Emissions Trading System to replace ambitious CO2 targets for light-duty vehicles, including the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the VDA.

The utilities and renewable energy sectors advocated for a zero-emissions CO2 standard in 2035 or 2030 and pushed for a more ambitious 2030 target, including associations such as Eurelectric and WindEurope and companies Enel, E.ON and Siemens Energy.

Lobbying on the EU Commission’s proposal since July 2021

Major European industry associations continued to strongly oppose the 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target between April-June 2022. This includes the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), BusinessEurope, the Federation of German Industries (BDI), and FuelsEurope. The European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) supported reducing the CO2 emissions reduction target proposed by the EU Commission from 100% to 90%, as well as consistently advocating for the legislation to allow emissions reductions from sustainable renewable fuel combustion in ICE vehicles to contribute to the target.

The energy sector also opposed ambitious CO2 standards. This includes companies Repsol, Eni, Neste and Siemens Energy, all of which signed an open letter to policymakers ahead of the EU Parliament and Council votes calling for a technology open regulation on CO2 emission standards from vehicles. The letter was only signed by one light-duty automobile manufacturer, Mazda.

The utilities and renewable energy sectors maintained support for the 2035 target. Iberdrola and EDP urged the European Parliament and EU governments to support a zero-emissions CO2 target for cars and vans in the EU ahead of the European Parliament’s plenary vote, while Eurelectric called for a rejection of loopholes being pushed by the oil, gas, and automaker parts supplier industries that would allow carmakers to buy fuel credits to comply with CO2 targets.

An increasing number of automakers have welcomed the 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target in 2022. Ford Motor and Mercedes-Benz joined Volvo Cars and Volkswagen in supporting the effective phase-out of internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicles in the EU from 2035.

BMW appears to be the only major European automaker directly opposing the policy after the EU Council and Parliament votes in June 2022. Following the EU Parliament’s plenary vote in favor of the 2035 CO2 target, BMW CEO, Oliver Zipse, expressed opposition to the outcome and called for a review date to reconsider the target. Following the EU Council vote in support of the 2035 zero-emissions mandate, Zipse continued to call for “technology openness” and emphasized the importance of carbon-neutral fuels for decarbonizing road transport.

Lobbying Impacts on Policy Ambition

By considering the potential scenarios in the EU Commission's original Impact Assessment Report for CO2 Standards reform, and comparing this to the final proposal, a gauge of the impact of industry lobbying can be taken. In this case, intense engagement from the automotive industry does not appear to have hampered the high ambition of the EU Commission, Parliament and Council.

EU Commission Proposal

  • CO2 Targets: The proposal would increase existing GHG emission reduction targets to at least 55% by 2030, up from 37.5%, and introduce a zero-emissions target for cars and vans by 2035. This would effectively phase out internal combustion engine vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel in the EU. This is in line with the higher ambitions set out in the EU Commission’s impact assessment.

  • Shorter term targets: The 2025 CO2 target of 15% was not increased, in line with advocacy positions taken by the automotive industry. Additionally, the option for interim targets (for example, in 2027) was not included in the proposal.

EU Parliament Position

The EU Parliament adopted its position on the CO2 standards revision, reaching a compromise position which closely resembles the EU Commission's proposal.

  • 2035 CO2 Targets: The target of 100% by 2035 was maintained, an amendment to weaken 100% 2035 target to 90%, in line with intense lobbying to weaken the 2035 target, did not pass.

  • Shorter term targets: An effort by the Rapporteur to increase the ambition of the file by increasing the 2030 target to 75% from 55% was not adopted, however the 2025 target was increased to 20% from 15%.

EU Council Position

The EU Council adopted its position on the CO2 standards revision maintains the EU Commission’s proposed 2035 CO2 zero-emissions target that would effectively phase out the sale of ICE vehicles

  • 2035 CO2 Target: Despite resistance from a group of countries, including Germany and Italy, that insisted on greater flexibility, the EU Council proposal preserved the 2035 target.

  • Shorter term review: The Council agreed to a review of the legislation in 2026 to assess the market and prospects for plug-in hybrid vehicles and e-fuels, which parts of the industry suggest can play a role alongside electric vehicles.

The EU Council, Commission and Parliament will now enter into negotiations with to finalize the legislation in trilogues, but all three EU institutions have formally backed the 2035 zero-emissions mandate.

InfluenceMap Query

GHG Emission Regulation

Policy Status

Under consideration: proceeding to trilogues after votes in EU Parliament and Council.

European Parliament: ENVI Committee Rapporteur: Jan Huitema (Renew) European Council: Environment Council

Evidence Profile

131140443480

European Commission

European Parliament

European Council

Live Lobbying Alerts

Eurelectric supports ICE vehicle phase out by 2035 in the EU

06 July 2022

In a 29th June tweet, Eurelectric expressed support for the EU phase out of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035, describing the EU decision as a win for e-mobility.

EU associations oppose the EU's ICE phase-out target

16 June 2022

On 8th June the Federation of German Industry (BDI) stated in a press release that it does not support the complete phase-out of internal combustion engine vehicles in 2035. The entity advocated for a 90% reduction target instead, stating that a lower target would prevent job losses and protect the automotive industry. In a 13th June press release, Confindustria opposed the result of the 8th June EU Parliament plenary vote on CO2 Standards for Light Duty Vehicles which approved a 2035 phase-out of internal combustion engine vehicles, stating that it would put thousands of jobs at risk. On May 31st, FuelsEurope wrote an Op-ed in Politico which appeared unsupportive of the effective ICE ban. FuelsEurope urged policymakers to “recognize new vehicles operated on up to 100 percent renewable fuels” in vehicle CO2 regulations and emphasized supply and cost concerns with electric vehicles.

CEOE advocates for technology neutrality in CO2 standards

27 May 2022

In a position statement outlining priorities for the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council, published on 22nd May, the Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales (CEOE) advocated for technology neutrality in the EU’s CO2 standards for light duty vehicles.

Confindustria opposes ICE vehicle phase out by 2035 in EU

30 June 2022

In a 24th June press release, Confindustria stated opposition to the proposed phase-out of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales by 2035 in Europe, suggesting that the target could be delayed in the EU Council session at the end of June.

EU autos split on zero-emissions CO2 target

10 June 2022

On June 9th, European automotive industry associations including ACEA and VDA opposed the European Parliament’s plenary vote on a 2035 zero-emissions CO2 target for cars and vans. ACEA President and BMW CEO, Oliver Zipse, expressed his concern with the outcome and called for a halfway review to define post-2030 targets. Volvo Cars, on the other hand, appeared to support the decision, with CEO Jim Rowan stating: "given the climate crisis we all face, this demonstration of global leadership will help ensure the EU delivers on the goals of the Paris Agreement, which require 100 percent zero tailpipe emission vehicle sales in Europe by 2035".

BusinessEurope opposes 2035 ICE phase out

18 May 2022

In a letter to members of the EU Parliament's Environment Committee on 10th May, BusinessEurope opposed the proposed 2035 phase out for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on the basis of technology neutrality.

Entities Engaged on Policy

The table below lists the entities found to be most engaged with the policy. InfluenceMap tracks over 350 companies and 150 industry associations globally. Each entity name links to its full InfluenceMap profile, where the evidence of its engagement can be found.

Influencemap Performance BandOrganizationEngagement Intensity
DExxonMobil50EnergyNorth America
C-Shell63EnergyEurope
DToyota Motor32AutomobilesAsia
CVolkswagen Group54AutomobilesEurope
C-TotalEnergies52EnergyEurope
D-BusinessEurope53All SectorsEurope
C-European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic)58ChemicalsEurope
D+European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)40AutomobilesEurope
DFederation of German Industries (BDI)59All SectorsEurope
BEurelectric58UtilitiesEurope