The European Union Energy Council convened on June 27-28, 2022, to fully define the amendments to the E.U.’s Fit for 55 initiative. When presented in July, 2021, the plan called for a 55-percent vehicle emissions reduction by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) and full carbon neutrality by 2050.
That broad framework isn’t the plan’s most polarizing facet, however. The package also aims to ban internal combustion vehicles in 2035. Italy took exception to the deadline, though, and requested to postpone the ban until 2040.
Despite garnering support from Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia, Italy’s appeal failed. On the other hand, a German-led proposal opened the possibility for firms and governments to develop synthetic fuels and rechargeable hybrids as feasible alternatives to fully-electric powertrains.
"An important opening has also been reached,” admitted Italy’s Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, “for the use of synthetic fuels with zero (or in any case very low) environmental impact, which allow a substantial reduction in CO2 even using traditional engines".
Up to this point, electric vehicles have become the front-running platform of the future. Italy’s own Ducati even explored synthetic fuels before committing to developing its V21L for the all-electric MotoE World Cup racing series. However, Cingolani believes it's important to leave the door open for competing biofuels.
“We don’t know exactly what will happen in the future with the massive production of batteries that will be strongly dependent on the rare metals from China and from different markets,” added Cingolani.
Not everyone in the climate fight feels the same way about the latest exemptions, though.
"The climate crisis is now and we already have a scalable zero-emission solution in electric cars," stated Transport & Environment clean vehicles manager Alex Keynes. "We can’t carve out exemptions for hypothetical solutions that don’t exist yet."
Within a pact as large as the European Union, finding a one-size-fits-all solution is no easy feat. Of course, the European Council and the European Parliament will need to finalize the Fit for 55 package in the coming months. Hopefully, the E.U. can find some common ground by that point.