Denmark, backed by 10 other European Union countries, on Friday called for an EU-wide ban on diesel and petrol cars by 2040 to combat climate change.
Denmark made the proposal during a meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg.
The EU aims to cut carbon emissions in the bloc by 40 per cent by 2030 while its executive, the Commission, plans to reduce them to zero by 2050 to help stop global warming.
“We need to acknowledge that we are in a bit of a hurry,” Danish Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jorgensen told Reuters after the meeting.
He said the diesel and petrol car ban will hopefully put pressure on the Commission to propose a phasing out of fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the bloc in the coming two decades.
Denmark made headlines in October 2018 when its government announced that it would ban the sale of all fossil fuel-powered cars by 2030 but it subsequently scrapped the idea because this would have breached EU rules.
Jorgensen said if the EU could not agree on a union-wide ban, it would be good if individual countries were allowed to implement such a measure.
“Plan A would be to make it a European ban,” he said.
Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and several other countries, however, suggested that more must be done to stop the “carbon leakage” of selling second-hand autos from western Europe to the eastern region.
Jorgensen said it was important to communicate the bloc’s long-term policy directions to carmakers and that Denmark’s next step was to set up an alliance with the 10 member states that support its proposal.
“Then I think others will follow,” he said.