Press Release

Scholz’s government threatens to derail EU Green Deal over engine phase-out

March 3, 2023

The ‘Climate Chancellor’ needs to draw a line between national disputes and what has already been agreed with Germany’s international partners.


The German Transport Minister has threatened that the government will abstain from an EU vote to end the sale of new combustion engine cars and vans from 2035. EU governments and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the 2035 deadline last year after Germany’s FDP party said it would support the law. 

A final vote by Ministers on the deal had been planned for Tuesday (7th March) and was expected to be a formality. But it has been postponed with no new date given for when a vote will be taken by the European Council. If the FDP’s threat that Germany will abstain is carried out, it will block a key part of the European Green Deal – the EU’s plan to become climate neutral in 2050. Cars are responsible for 12% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. A 2035 phase-out of internal combustion cars and vans in the EU would save almost 2 Gt of CO2 emissions by 2050, analysis by green group Transport & Environment (T&E) shows.


Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility at T&E, said: “The FDP are turning Europe’s engine phase-out into a battle for the soul of Germany’s governing coalition. By blocking the most progressive climate legislation in the world, the Liberals risk not only the breakup of the coalition but Germany’s credibility on the world stage.”

“The FDP’s cry for e-fuels is about domestic political point scoring after a series of election defeats. Championing the internal combustion engine might play well to their base, but it will give the advantage to the US and China, which are threatening to overtake Europe with massive investments in electric cars and batteries.”

“The self-proclaimed Climate Chancellor must now make clear that Germany is a reliable international partner. If the combustion engine phase-out is overturned, the failure of EU climate policy will forever be associated with Olaf Scholz. The Chancellor already supported the agreement back in November when concessions were made for Germany. At stake is not just the single most important law to tackle transport emissions but also Germany’s reputation in Europe and the world.”

Are e-fuels for cars a good idea?

  • Synthetic fuels are a far less environmentally friendly solution for cars than battery-powered electric cars. A car running on pure e-fuels would emit significantly more CO2 over its life cycle than the electric car, a lifecycle analysis shows.
  • Running cars on e-fuels will not alleviate air pollution problems. In independent tests, cars powered by e-fuel emit as much poisonous nitrogen oxides (NOx) as fossil fuel engines.
  • E-fuels are expensive to produce. Running a car on e-fuels over five years will cost a driver €10,000 more than running a battery electric car. 
  • Powering cars with e-fuels is far more energy-intensive than powering electric vehicles: an electric Volkswagen ID.3 drives five times further on the same amount of renewable energy than a VW Golf running on e-fuel, T&E analysis found. A BMW i4 could drive six times further than a BMW 4 Series with a combustion engine.
  • The industry’s own analysis shows that the volume of e-fuel forecasted to be available in 2035 would only fuel five million cars out of the EU’s projected fleet of 287 million. Even industry has no faith in e-fuels as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
  • Car industry leaders have already dismissed the future use of e-fuels in cars. Volkswagen group CEO, Oliver Blume, was quoted in Der Spiegel ruling out any significant role for e-fuels in road transport.

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