Energy Transition

China joins list of nations banning the sale of old-style fossil-fuelled vehicles

China car emissions carbon electricity decarbonizing energy

China is banning fossil fuel cars from 2035. Image: REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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Technological Transformation

This article is part of: Race to Zero Dialogues
  • From 2035, the only new cars for sale in China will be 'new-energy'.
  • In parts of Europe, similar rules are coming on stream earlier.
  • The US is lagging behind – only California is enacting legislation.

Time is running out for fossil-fuelled cars. China is the latest country to outline plans to get them off the road, joining a growing list of countries that have announced similar plans.

By 2035, all new vehicles sold in China must be powered by 'new-energy', the Chinese authorities have said. Half of them must be electric, fuel cell, or plug-in hybrid – the remaining 50%, hybrid vehicles.

There have been subsidies on offer to encourage Chinese motorists to buy new-energy cars since 2009, and by last year they accounted for around 5% of all new car sales. Globally, approximately half of all electric and other new-energy cars were sold in China.

Here are some of the other jurisdictions that have taken a similar step.

Have you read?

UK: Pressure to accelerate change

The UK has plans in place to ban sales of new fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2040. But there is a growing call for that to be brought forward. The Department for Transport is “actively considering” shifting the deadline to 2030, according to The Times newspaper. Currently, new-energy vehicles account for 4.9% of sales, the same report says, while a report from the Behavioural Insights Team and the Transport Research Laboratory recommend further financial incentives.

Norway: Leader of the pack

In October, more than 60% of new cars sold in Norway were electric. The country has an ambitious deadline of 2025 as the point at which new cars must be new-energy vehicles. The Nordic nations are frequently held up as examples of progressive attitudes and Norway is no exception, offering a range of financial incentives and inducements to encourage take-up of electric cars.


US: Slow progress state-by-state

There is no nationwide ruling on this issue across the US. California is the first state to announce any kind of ban. By 2035, it will no longer permit the sale of new gasoline-powered cars. California has more electric vehicle charging outlets than any other state in the Union, a long way ahead of other states.

China electric cars vehicles transport sustainability consumption
Chinas percentage of non-fossil fuel energy is expected to rise to 84% by 2060. Image: Statista

European Union: Driving change

Across many European countries, similar plans and deadlines for the transition to new-energy vehicles are in place. In Germany, almost one-sixth of all the new cars registered in September were hybrids or electric. Along with France, Germany has a 2040 deadline for the end of sales of petrol and diesel vehicles. That means the EU’s two largest economies will be lagging behind other European nations in that regard. Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands have set 2030 as their deadline.

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