MEPs have voted for a 40% cut in car emissions by 2030, in a rebuke to more cautious proposals by the European commission that signals tough negotiations with national governments ahead.
Germany has strongly opposed any increase to the 30% cut in CO2 output proposed by the European commission, although countries such as France have yet to reveal their position.
While the MEPs’ target – along with a 20% milestone agreed for 2025 – would still overshoot the Paris agreement’s objective of holding global warming to 1.5C, it was welcomed by the Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout.
“We cannot compromise our climate ambition because certain governments and the commission act as lobbyists for the car industry,” he said. “In upcoming negotiations, the parliament must stand firmly by its newly agreed targets.”
British Conservative MEPs voted against the 40% goal despite a government instruction, seen by the Guardian, that welcomed the proposal as being in line with UK policy.
The Conservative MEP John Procter said: “We are concerned a 40% target, tied to punitive penalties, may be a step too far at this stage and further threaten jobs.”
Officials suggested the ECR’s positioning could strengthen the UK’s hand in negotiations.
However, it was condemned as “a total sham” by the Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder. “Do they seriously expect us to believe their government’s promise of a green Brexit after this?” she asked.
In a sign of battles to come, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (Acea) said the timetable for the changes might be too tight to meet.
Acea’s secretary general, Erik Jonnaert, said: “We remain particularly concerned about the extremely aggressive CO2 reduction targets and the imposition of sales quotas for battery electric vehicles that MEPs have backed. Today’s vote risks having a very negative impact on jobs across the automotive value chain.”
The MEPs’ decision followed a Danish ban on the sale of automobiles using fossil fuels, announced on Monday, also due to take effect from 2030.