Europe is under pressure from the oil industry. Will the fossil sector block the modernisation of the European economy?

2023 - 03 - 10
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Both the modernisation of the European automotive industry and the onset of an emission-free economy in Europe are jeopardised. Under pressure from the fossil sector, politicians of some EU Member States are starting to question their support of the ban on the sales of combustion-engine cars in the EU after 2035.

“It is hugely disappointing to see a number of European politicians sacrificing Europe’s environment and emission-free future for the interests of the fossil sector,” said Dalibor Dostal, Director of conservation organisation European Wildlife. In the past couple of days, a number of politicians have begun making their consent to the ban on emission-free transport in 2035 conditional on an exception for so-called synthetic fuels. This technology has been developed by oil giant ExxonMobil from Texas, US. In Europe it is promoted, for example, by car maker Porsche.

“The world is in danger of a climatic disaster. That is why switching to zero-emission mobility is absolutely essential,” emphasised Dalibor Dostal.

According to him, there is a very feasible risk of a repetition of the scenario that Europe has already experienced with biofuels. “Biofuels were one of the tricks of oil companies how to halt a switch to emission-free transport for decades. Initially, biofuels were promoted as carbon-neutral by oil companies. When it soon turned out that biofuels result in greater emissions than the use of conventional diesel and petrol, politicians did not dare to ban this technology because of high investments by many producers in the processing of biofuels. There is a risk of a similar scenario with synthetic fuels,” Dalibor Dostal added.

Relying on synthetic fuels, also referred to by the misleading name e-fuels, jeopardises the competitiveness of the European automotive industry as well. The developed countries, including China and the US, are gradually switching to electric vehicles. While Europe would stick to the outdated and obsolete technology of combustion engines, its competitors would switch to more modern and emission-free technology. “Europe should follow the trends set by innovative companies such as Tesla, and not subject itself to the pressures from oil dinosaurs,” mentioned Dalibor Dostal.

Synthetic fuels are another attempt of the oil industry to retain control over a part of transport and economy. The fossil sector is economically one of the strongest fields. It has long been linked to the exertion of lobbying and corruption pressures in various parts of the world.

Banning the sales of combustion-engine vehicles in the EU after 2035 is in itself too late and not enough of a solution to greenhouse gas production in transport and reducing smog in cities. Its further weakening by allowing synthetic fuels would mean another threat to the climate and environment in Europe.

“Independent tests have proven that synthetic fuels produce similar pollutants as the combustion of conventional fuels derived from oil. This concerns mainly nitrogen oxides, which are among the most harmful substances produced by combustion-engine vehicles. The amount of particulate matter PM 2.5 produced during the combustion of synthetic fuels is alarming, too. Consent to the use of synthetic fuels would pose another health hazard to 450 million European Union citizens,” emphasised Dalibor Dostal and concluded: “I believe that European politicians will eventually not yield to the pressure from oil companies, and synthetic fuels will not be authorised in the EU.”

Polluted air in Europe kills up to 800 thousand people every year. Emissions from combustion-engine cars are to blame considerably for these deaths.

Photo: Profimedia

European Wildlife

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