It’s Thursday, February 16, and the European Union is on track to phase out fossil fuel-powered cars.

A public charging station for electric cars in Hanover

Last fall, EU negotiators reached a landmark deal to phase out the sale of gasoline-powered cars. Now, some four months later, one of the bloc’s key lawmaking bodies has formally approved it.

Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday passed a law requiring automakers to achieve a 100 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new cars sold in the EU by 2035. Because gasoline- and diesel-powered cars are inherently incompatible with such a target, the law effectively spells the end of the internal combustion engine in the EU’s 27 member states.

Europe, home to major auto manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, is now set to become one of the world’s largest markets to set an expiration date for the sale of cars powered by fossil fuels. It joins U.S. states including California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington, all of which have adopted phaseout deadlines of 2035.

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The law also sets a more ambitious interim target for 2030, requiring automakers to reduce emissions 55 percent below 2021 levels rather than the previously planned 37.5 percent. Final approval is expected by March, pending the rules’ formal endorsement by the Council of the EU and their publication in the EU Official Journal, where the bloc records all of its legal acts.

Critics said the policy would jeopardize tens of thousands of jobs in the EU’s automotive industry, but Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the EU’s executive body, said the law was needed to keep Europe competitive on the global stage. In China, which leads the world in clean energy manufacturing, carmakers are quickly ramping up production and exports of EVs and EV components. “These are cars that will be more and more affordable, and we need to compete with that,” Timmermans told lawmakers this week.

Meanwhile, the chair of the European Parliament’s transport committee hailed the vote as a “victory for our planet.” On the whole, transportation represents more than one-fifth of the bloc’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and some 72 percent of that comes from cars and trucks.

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