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EU abandons ban of combustion engine cars – Britain needs to follow suit

March 27, 2023

By Paul Homewood


London, 27 March – Net Zero Watch has welcomed yesterday’s EU agreement not to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) after 2035.

Net Zero Watch is calling on Rishi Sunak to follow suit and abandon its 2030 ban of the sale of ICE cars.

According to the agreement conventional cars can continue to be sold and registered after 2035 if they only use fuels that are CO2-neutral. This will allow car makers to continue producing and selling conventional models indefinitely.

"Now that the European ban of the sale of combustion engine cars has been overturned, the government will come under growing pressure to follow suit if it wants to avoid destroying the British car industry for good," said Dr Benny Peiser, director of Net Zero Watch.

The EU agreed in February to set the 2035 date for ending the sale of ICE cars, but Germany and a coalition of seven EU countries lodged last-minute objections and called for the use of e-fuelled ICE cars beyond 2035.
As a result, the EU has come to what appears to be a sensible decision to allow the sale and use of conventional cars that are fulled by synthetic and other CO2-neutral fuels.
For millions of Britons electric vehicles will not be a viable solution as they are much more expensive than cars with combustion engines. And electric cars will probably still be more expensive than conventional cars in seven years.

  1. John Palmer permalink
    March 27, 2023 10:44 am

    May I have a technical explanation of what this change will actually mean in practice?

    • gezza1298 permalink
      March 27, 2023 11:21 am

      It effectively allows the manufacturers to keep making the cars and vans we actually want to buy beyond 2030 and kicks the can down the road as to what happens next as unsurprisingly these other fuels are much more expensive. As I noted the other day in the banning of the use of red diesel for certain uses is to force you to use something more expensive but allegedly more eco-friendly.

      • John Palmer permalink
        March 27, 2023 11:33 am

        Thanks for that, it sounds a definite step in the right direction at last. But if ICE cars are to remain unchanged, the CCC and the Green Blob will kick-off – loudly enough (as usual) to stop our wet Government doing the same?

      • gezza1298 permalink
        March 27, 2023 11:52 am

        It might depend on how hard to car manufacturers push the government to make a change. The UK market can’t really stand out on its own. What if it brings return to people importing their own cars?

  2. March 27, 2023 10:44 am

    and the announcement from the EU does not appear to have landed on the BBC News editors’ desks…..@ 10.43 Am GMT 27/03/2023…several searches return DS.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      March 27, 2023 1:03 pm

      That will take a while. It’s going to be a tricky one for the BBC to spin!

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        March 27, 2023 1:10 pm

        They are very good at double think, like most leftards.

  3. Thomas Carr permalink
    March 27, 2023 10:51 am

    Major hazard for the ‘electrics’ is the lack of any certainty about residual vales for such cars and vehicles generally after 3/4/5 years.

  4. Vernon E permalink
    March 27, 2023 10:56 am

    Doesn’t give me any comfort at all. What is the availability/cost of e-fuels? Seems to me its just another concession to the ESG.

    • GeoffB permalink
      March 27, 2023 11:10 am

      It is just going to be face saving, Petrol and Diesel will still be available, probably with some sort of green tax, e fuels are probably pie in the sky, although they may be a solution for long haul flights.

      My hope is that net zero is seen for what it is, a futile gesture to the eco loons and a long term plan to impoverish us, so the elites have control.

    • Realist permalink
      March 27, 2023 11:11 am

      Still a watered-down ban. But the ban is still there unless those “efuel” vehicles can also use normal diesel and petrol.

      • gezza1298 permalink
        March 27, 2023 11:26 am

        That will be the next issue – how will they stop you from using normal fuel. Power limits were imposed on motorcycles in the past by means of limiting the size of the intake. This would either be a big washer in the carburettor of by having a restriction in the intake rubber. Unsurprisingly a bit of work with a screwdriver or stanley knife resulted in and unrestricted motorcycle. Somebody will find a solution to any imposed limit.

    • March 27, 2023 11:58 am

      I reckon it depends upon your definition of the “E” in “Efuels”. As nuclear is now officially “green”, what next….fossil derived fuels deemed to be “green” because they were “originally plants and trees”, and then come within the definition of recycling? (exhaled CO2 greens the planet, more plants and trees and therefore “restocks” the supply ) – OK, scientifically very simplistic and not accurate, hell of a long lead in time too – but then the “policymakers” have to have a ladder to get them out of the sink hole into which they have descended, nonetheless.

      Face saving? I can think of a few other phrases that might fit…

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        March 27, 2023 12:09 pm

        Well, Drax are getting away with claiming their wood chips are renewable because the forests they come from renew themselves……like when? Over what time-scale?

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        March 27, 2023 1:18 pm

        I’ll just add my comment to Harry’s. If cutting down trees in the US using petrol-driven chainsaws, chipping them using (probably) some fossil-fuel-driven kit, transporting them to the coast in diesel-driven trains (or powered by fossil-generated electricity), and shipping them to the UK in oil-powered ships in order to burn them to generate electricity — stops to draw breath — is “carbon neutral” just because the CO2 released in the space of a few weeks just MIGHT be re-sequestered over the next 20 years then I’ve been in the wrong job all my life.
        I should have been selling bottled unicorn pee for which there must surely be a massive un-tapped market!

  5. March 27, 2023 10:57 am

    At last! Adegree of common sense!
    Now about those gas boilers…….

    • Chris Phillips permalink
      March 27, 2023 3:18 pm

      And more urgently, what about oil boilers that the Govt still intends to ban from 2026.

  6. GeoffB permalink
    March 27, 2023 11:03 am

    As I said earlier today on the fines for hogging a charger.
    “Why would anyone willingly purchase an EV?”
    Looks like the great reset is U- turning in our favour.

  7. Realist permalink
    March 27, 2023 11:04 am

    Only a partial return to sanity. The ICE ban needs removing in its entirety.

  8. Realist permalink
    March 27, 2023 11:08 am

    Only a partial return to sanity. The ICE ban needs removing in its entirety. Or will those “unbanned” cars also work with normal petrol and diesel?

    • GeoffB permalink
      March 27, 2023 11:16 am

      It is probably just a software change in the ignition timing, not a mechanical change, petrol is roughly heptane which is C7 H16 you can make that from coal as Germany did in WW2

      • March 27, 2023 11:27 am

        Not a chemist, so ask, will they be able to make this stuff from wood chips, shipped to us across the Atlantic with its elephantine carbon footprint, and call it carbon neutral, just like Drax?

      • Nigel Sherratt permalink
        March 27, 2023 11:41 am

        And famously Sasol of course. Needs must when the devil drives. Let’s hope we don’t end up with ersatz coffee too.

      • GeoffB permalink
        March 27, 2023 12:28 pm

        you make e fuel from CO2 captured (including from drax) and green hydrogen from electrolysis of excess wind energy. I read in the Express that their is going to be some sort of defeat mechanism to stop petrol/Diesel being used in e fuel car. No details.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 27, 2023 12:44 pm

        Not sure if they have a device for preventing the use of petrol in Molotov cocktails.

    • Nigel Sherratt permalink
      March 27, 2023 11:26 am

      I’m sure you’ve hit on the end game. Synthetic fuels make little sense (until/if hydrocarbons run out) but that’s still more sense than EVs. Annoying but at least perhaps a light in the enveloping darkness. JCB have developed hydrogen engines that are almost a straight swap for their diesel engines. Hydrogen makes little sense as a fuel but still more sense than EVs for things that need some ‘grunt’ all day. Hydrogen bowsers would be a lot more energy dense, quicker and realistic than the equivalent mobile battery on site and so at least practical if annoying and expensive.

      • julianflood permalink
        March 28, 2023 7:17 am

        And extremely explosive. Your friendly neighbourhood terrorist will be grateful.


      • Nigel Sherratt permalink
        March 28, 2023 5:08 pm

        Indeed, piped hydrogen for cooking and heating makes no sense at all.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      March 27, 2023 3:25 pm

      They’ll work fine, just a question of obtaining the fuel & using it.

  9. Mark Stevens permalink
    March 27, 2023 11:42 am

    I guess it’s progress although it would have been better if there was just an extension on allowing the use of regular (plant friendly) fuels.

  10. Stonyground permalink
    March 27, 2023 12:38 pm

    There has been the beginnings of a rebellion over the ULEZ zones. Cameras covered or vandalised and the cloning of the registration plates of council officials so that they are the ones getting the fixed penalty notices. This will hopefully spread to all kinds of other impositions being inflicted on us by the powers that be.

    • Vernon E permalink
      March 27, 2023 2:57 pm

      Stonyg: I agree with you and posted a few days ago that though I am pessimistic generally about ESG and NZ if there is a pushback it will come from these impositioons on vehicles.Why? Bescause most of the stuff is in the future but ULEZ and, even more so, LTNs are hitting people here and now. Anybody out there trying to sell a nice residential property in Oxford that doesn’t have vehicular access?

  11. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 27, 2023 12:43 pm

    Enforcement is easy. Stain old fuels and randomly stop cars to check, anpr at petrol pump or some sort of fuel card that must be scanned before purchase,….. numerous ways.

    It’s unlikely e-fuel cars will run on old petrol or diesel anyway, it’ll probably be a completely different grade, just as modern diesel cars die if fed veg oil.

  12. kzbkzb permalink
    March 27, 2023 12:49 pm

    I wouldn’t rejoice too early. e-fuels will be extremely expensive, and they can easily ban the sale of fossil-fuels.
    So it is just another thing for the rich, who will be able to go out in their classic cars using expensive fuels that are uneconomic for the ordinary people.

  13. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    March 27, 2023 1:09 pm

    Net zero is a very stupid idea and anyone who believes in it should stop exhaling CO2, right now!

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      March 27, 2023 2:15 pm

      Yes they like their stupid ideas. Anything for control. All very well saving ICE cars in the UK but the government is still trying to restrict their use. For example 15 minute zones, ultra low emission zones, residential parking zones or simply highways that resemble the moon surface after a mortar attack.
      Then there are numerous stealth taxes. The war on private car ownership will continue because there is money to be made.
      Anything we enjoy they tax almost out of existence e.g. beer.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 28, 2023 8:50 am

        It’s not about money, it’s about irrational hatred from busybodies. The sort of people who work for or stand for councils are e timely petty tyrants whovwant to stop people doing what they don’t like. For decades now they have waged war on private motorists just because. Now they have “climate change” as a reason. They destroyed high streets with parking bans, making large put of town centres more attractive, now want to destroy those by forcing us into 15 minute cities where we have no choice but to use a bus to get food.

      • Realist permalink
        March 28, 2023 9:11 am

        Of course it is irrational hatred of ordinary people by both national and local politicians and other control freaks. At what point will people wake up and start fighting back?
        It’s not only cars though. look at ALL the bans etc. since your schooldays.
        >> irrational hatred from busybodies.

  14. Malcolm permalink
    March 27, 2023 2:08 pm

    My 2002 Audi 3 litre diesel has currently got 207,000 miles on the clock and no significant problems. (It did need a new crank damper about ten years ago). It still cruises at 50+ mpg and uses no oil.

    Has anyone got an all electric car up to that mileage and not need major work or a new battery?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 28, 2023 8:53 am

      I believe electric motors are pretty maintenance free? You may get problems with other components caused by the heavier weights of EVs though. The big unknown is the battery. If that’s only good for 60,000 miles before performance drops off significantly then we will have huge problems. And if that drop off is dependent on care (no fast charging say) then second-hand values will be very low as there’s no way of checking.

  15. Broadlands permalink
    March 27, 2023 2:20 pm

    “…decision to allow the sale and use of conventional cars that are fueled by synthetic and other CO2-neutral fuels.”

    How can a fuel for a conventional vehicle be “CO2 neutral”? Does it emit no exhaust? just water vapor?

  16. Gamecock permalink
    March 27, 2023 2:32 pm

    ‘Net Zero Watch has welcomed yesterday’s EU agreement not to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) after 2035.’

    That is not what they have done at all. Germany et al went to the Brussels Beast to ask, “Mother, may I use e (sic) fuel in cars?”

    It is an extremely narrow ruling, to the benefit of virtually no one.

    ‘Now that the European ban of the sale of combustion engine cars has been overturned’

    Quite a leap there, Dr Peiser!

    And the EU exercising their authority does NOT diminish their authority.

    Can e fuels be used in conventional ICE engines? Porsche bought an e fuels company in Chile, and imported some of the fuel:

    ‘Porsche Starts Synthetic Fuel Production, Fills 911 With First Drops’


    There’s your answer. It’s not compatible. Current target hydrocarbons are methane and butane. Yes, ICE engines can be made to run on them, but it isn’t just a little timing change.

    Nor is it scalable.

    Efficiency is surely horrendous.

    And it is tone deaf. As the Western world futilely attempts to electrify everything, adding using electricity to generate fuel raises the bar beyond sight.

    • Douglas Dragonfly permalink
      March 27, 2023 3:08 pm

      GC, you make some good points there.
      Please excuse my ignorance but is it comparable to when Tony (war criminal) Blair removed the lead from petrol and brought in lead free benzidine (? carcinogenic) petrol to the UK ?
      Didn’t valve seats require modification ?
      I can also remember 5 star petrol. When that went from station forecourts people were buying lighter fuel in an attempt to raise the octane level.
      Again, any thoughts or corrections would be appreciated.
      Bladder cancer and occupational exposure to diesel and gasoline engine emissions among Canadian men – Latifovic – 2015 – Cancer Medicine – Wiley Online Library”

      • Dave Ward permalink
        March 27, 2023 3:21 pm

        “Didn’t valve seats require modification ?”
        Yes, they needed to be made of a harder material. Or you inserted some “Carbonflo” pellets in your fuel tank.

        “I can also remember 5 star petrol”
        So can I, and when it was available I could easily “tweak” the ignition timing on my Mk 1 Mini and get a little bit more power!

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 28, 2023 8:55 am

        And I have never seen any research which shows the benefits of that shift.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 27, 2023 4:03 pm

      Sorry, DD, I don’t know exactly what e fuel Porsche has. Should it be butanol, which wikipaedia says is one e fuel, it could be used in conventional ICE cars, if blended as E85. But then E85 isn’t e fuel.

      Similar to the removal of tetra-ethyl lead and valve seats, high concentrations of alcohol in petrol is death to the seals in older vehicles.

      Also, petrol containing alcohol has a short shelf life. It should not sit for more than 2-3 months. It turns to varnish. Marinas in my area sell only alcohol-free petrol.

      But, generally, there are too many technical questions to be answered, even asked, about e fuels. Peiser’s celebration and subsequent demands on the UK government is silly.

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 27, 2023 10:22 pm

        Porsche press release:

        ‘In the first step, electrolysers split water into oxygen and green hydrogen using wind power. CO₂ is then filtered from the air and combined with the green hydrogen to produce synthetic methanol, which in turn is converted into eFuel.’

        So they won’t tell us what ‘eFuel’ is.

        What kind of filter extracts CO2?

        Punta Arenas is semi arid. From where will they get this water to split?

        Punta Arenas region of Argentina is a bit hostile. It is known for extreme wind. Regardless, it takes some imagination to believe that the world’s transport will run off windmills down south.

  17. Mikehig permalink
    March 27, 2023 5:08 pm

    Logically this should open the door to fuels – and other products – derived from “Blue” oil.
    This is normal oil which is extracted by injecting CO2 into the oilfield, technology which has been in widespread use for many decades. The new twist is to use CO2 captured from industry. The potential is far greater than piddling about with “e-fuel”.
    The oil is actually “carbon-negative” in that the amount of CO2 sequestered is greater than that released by extracting, refining and combusting the products.
    However, given the green animus towards the fossil fuel industry, they will probably find a way to block it.

  18. Phil O'Sophical permalink
    March 27, 2023 8:04 pm

    “what appears to be a sensible decision to allow the sale and use of conventional cars that are fulled by synthetic and other CO2-neutral fuels.”

    No. The sensible decision would have been to stop pretending there is an existential problem for the planet (far removed from wanting a cleaner environment) and let manufacturers continue to develop cleaner and more efficient engines and fuels, and let those with deep enough pockets and who profess to care so much about the environment buy their EVs, with all their draw backs. Let see how they do in a free market.

    Over their life time, from raw materials to disposal, EV are the least environmentally friendly, if only they realised, and the least practical, except for short trips within your 15 minute city.

  19. liardetg permalink
    March 27, 2023 9:18 pm

    I’m so sooo glad they’ve solved the problem of the hundreds of thousands of huge 12 wheeler lorries driven by diesel fuel across Europe. We need them to run our civilization with. Never end a sentence with a preposition.

  20. Chris permalink
    March 27, 2023 10:26 pm

    Jaguar Land Rover has a £1 billion engine factory employing 1200 people in the Midlands building 3, 4 and 6 cylinder petrol and diesel engines for the UK and overseas manufacturing sites.

    What happens to all these employees working for JLR and UK suppliers, if internal combustion engines are banned?

    • Realist permalink
      March 28, 2023 6:45 am

      European politicians used to be frightened of unemployment, but in recent years, it seems they no longer care and are trying to increase unemployment with all their ban, taxes and regulations.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 28, 2023 8:57 am

        It depends on what’s causing it. If it’s evil Thatcher putting coal miners out of work, that’s bad. Green stuff? That’s fine. Brexit closing Nissan? Disaster and stupidity. Climate change closing Nissan? Vital and virtuous.

  21. julianflood permalink
    March 28, 2023 7:10 am

    Simply abandoning the ban on petrol/diesel vehicles will feed the paranoia of the green blob and inflame their protests.

    There is a solution. An ICE using compressed methane produces NOX and particulate pollution at a level too low for MOT testing equipment to measure. As much of the energy comes from the hydrogen component it is also ‘low carbon’.*

    Clean air, rapid refuelling, use our own gas. Win win win. No need for ULEZ, it’s already low emission. Win. No scrappage. Win. A way forward for our society, big WIN.

    It’s such an obvious solution I’m amazed the non LibLabCon parties aren’t shouting the policy from the rooftops. Pass it on.

    *Does anyone know the exact percentages?

    • Realist permalink
      March 29, 2023 10:20 am

      Simply abandoning the ban on petrol/diesel vehicles would do wonders for the economy and provide vehicles that the actual market needs and wants.

  22. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 28, 2023 8:43 am

    The fact that our ban is 2030 illustrates the demented nature of UK politics. What possible reason could there be for having it earlier than the EU?

  23. gezza1298 permalink
    March 28, 2023 11:56 am

    Chinese battery car maker Evergrande NEV is in financial trouble as since the start of manufacture in September they have sold just 900 cars. They were set up to compete with Tesla who in that period sold 75,000 cars. Tesla are unusual in being a battery car only manufacturer that has actually survived but they have become a cult car with the virtue signallers.

    • Realist permalink
      March 29, 2023 10:17 am

      Just look at all the subsidies
      >>Tesla are unusual in being a battery car only manufacturer that has actually survived

      • gezza1298 permalink
        March 29, 2023 10:37 am

        That has certainly helped but Tesla does have a high standing amongst the cultists, and also does provide a small amount of charge points that others don’t. I am always amazed by the tv sponsorship by Polestar – have you ever seen one? I haven’t. Or Cupra.

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