Belgium wants a European date for the end of the thermal vehicle

Belgium intends to get out of the thermal vehicle but has no target date. With 8 other countries, it pleads with Europe that the Commission sets a common date.

The announcement has panache. Belgium, together with 8 other countries, “calls on the European Commission for zero emission vehicles”. Clearly, these 9 countries require a single date to move to the end of the thermal vehicle.

Belgium wants to be a “leader” in the change towards a more sustainable road transport, and is here at the initiative, with Denmark and the Netherlands, communicate Wednesday the Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten and the Minister of Mobility Georges gilkinet. The two ministers, from the environmental ranks, signed the document on behalf of the Belgian government. Austria, Ireland, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Malta also support this call, they say.

However, Belgium is not the most advanced in terms of zero emission vehicles. Norway, the country par excellence for electric mobility, has already chosen the date of 2025. Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Slovenia, Great Britain and even Sweden all have dates between 2030 and 2040 for the exit of the thermal vehicle.

Government agreement

Belgium has the same intention, but does not yet have a date, except for company vehicles (2026). “For the moment, we are working within the framework of the government agreement”, we are told at the office of Georges Gilkinet. In it, it is expected that eventually, only the sale of zero-emission vehicles will be authorized in Belgium. But with a lot of preconditions like sufficient supply of affordable cars and that life cycle analyzes are available. “In this context, the government will also take into account theimpact of this transition on public finances (in particular the impact on excise duties). In consultation with the Regions, the government will examine the development of the necessary infrastructure and data exchange. This should also make it possible to use electric vehicles in a flexible electricity network, ”the government agreement reads.

Many obstacles

If the intention is written in black and white, there are still many obstacles for this end of the thermal vehicle to become a reality in Belgium. The concept of a zero-emission car is also debated, as it often omits the production of vehicles and the extraction of their materials. A reality nonetheless well understood by car manufacturers, who for the most part aim for at least carbon-compensated production.

“Setting a clear course at European level will allow the manufacturers concerned to innovate in favor of affordable zero-emission cars.”

Georges gilkinet

Minister of Mobility

LONG Greenpeace welcomed the signing of Belgium, but also asks Belgium to do not wait for the Commission to set a date itself.

However, the Belgian approach makes sense insofar as the decisions of the car manufacturers will not depend solely on the will of our country alone. “Setting a clear course at European level will allow the manufacturers concerned to innovate in favor of affordable zero-emission cars”, explains Minister Georges Gilkinet.

The pressure put on the Commission is not trivial. It must review its CO objectives by June2 for cars sold in 2030.

Some brands like Volvo, Jaguar or Ford did not wait for the Commission to move towards all electric in Europe by 2030. The biggest challenge is in the infrastructure on the one hand and among generalists with a lot volumes on the other hand. Volkswagen, for example, has just decided to double its objective of electric vehicles by 2030, or 70% of these sales. Which would already be a feat …

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