18.06.2022, Bayern, Irschenberg: Fahrzeuge stehen im Rückreiseverkehr zum Ende der Pfingstferien in Bayern auf der Autobahn A8 bei Irschenberg. Foto: Peter Kneffel/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The negotiations on important parts of the EU package to fight climate change can go into the next round. On Wednesday night, the ministers responsible for the environment in the 27 EU countries agreed, among other things, on a common position on the reform of emissions trading and a ban on internal combustion engines. Consumers should be relieved by the climate social fund.

The laws were proposed by the EU Commission to meet the climate targets and can now be negotiated with the European Parliament. Then they can come into effect.

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Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said after the agreement of the EU countries: “This is the largest climate protection package that has been forged in Europe for 15 years.”

The aim is to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible and to radically reduce emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

The EU has set itself the goal of reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 and becoming climate-neutral by 2050. The following laws are intended to help achieve this.

From 2035, only new, climate-neutral cars will be sold in the EU. The EU states have spoken out in favor of lowering the so-called fleet limits for cars to zero by 2035. These limit values ​​are specifications for manufacturers as to how much CO2 the cars and vans they produce may emit during operation.

This means that from 2035 no more conventionally operated new cars with combustion engines will be sold. For conventionally powered new cars, that will be the end. Vehicles that have already been registered may continue to drive.

In addition, the EU Commission should examine whether there could be exceptions for combustion engines that are operated with synthetic fuels. The EU Parliament is clearer about the demands and wants a de facto end of combustion engines. Around 20 percent of EU CO2 emissions are caused by road traffic, as Liberal MP Jan Huitema emphasized.

The federal government only found an internal compromise during the ongoing negotiations. According to a government spokesman on Tuesday, the EU Commission has promised to submit a proposal on how only vehicles fueled with climate-friendly fuels can be registered after 2035. “According to the common understanding of the federal government, this also applies to passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.”

The FDP had great concerns about agreeing to a de facto combustion engine exit. The federal government now has the back door for the Commission to formulate a proposal that also takes climate-friendly fuels into account for new cars with internal combustion engines. The FDP had insisted that after 2035, combustion cars that run on e-fuels could also be approved.

The federal government had actually already agreed in March to approve the EU Commission’s plan. In the morning, before the federal government reached a compromise, Economics Minister Robert Habeck and Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (both Greens) spoke of a common position of the federal government.

At the heart of EU climate policy is emissions trading, which means that you have to pay for the emission of climate-damaging gases such as CO2. Free certificates for certain companies are to be gradually phased out between 2026 and 2035. At the end of the period, the reduction should be faster than at the beginning. The EU Parliament had spoken out in favor of gradually phasing out this award from 2027 and then completely eliminating it from 2032.

The system is now to be extended to heating buildings and transport. This was hotly debated in some cases because it was feared that consumers would then have to pay even more for heating and driving. In Germany and other EU countries there is already a CO2 price for these areas.

So far, the obligation to pay for the exchange of climate-damaging gases has only applied to industry. The EU parliamentarians are in favor of only having to pay for commercial buildings and transport if CO2 is emitted.

Since consumers may incur higher costs during the energy transition – such as higher heating costs – there should be a climate social fund. This is intended to relieve the households affected and finance long-term investments, for example in more efficient buildings. Here too, however, there could be disagreements with Parliament.

The fund is to be financed by revenues from emissions trading. According to Parliament estimates, up to 72 billion euros could be raised by 2032 – however, the EU countries have advocated a smaller fund of around 59 billion euros.