Denmark to ban petrol and diesel car sales by 2030

An electric car-sharing scheme in Copenhagen kicked off in 2015. [Steve Heap / Shutterstock]

Denmark announced on Tuesday (2 October) that it will ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines by 2030 and hopes to have one million electric and hybrid cars on the roads by then.

In a speech to parliament, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that “diesel and petrol cars in Denmark must be the past. The future is green,” adding that all sales of new fossil-fuel-powered cars will cease in 2030.

Rasmussen’s energy minister, Lars Chr. Lilleholt, announced the ban during the government’s climate council last week but did not mention a timeframe in any detail.

“In just 12 years, we will prohibit the sale of new diesel and petrol cars. And in 17 years, every new car in Denmark must be an electric car or other forms of zero-emissions car,” Rasmussen said, implying that hybrids will be phased out in 2035.

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The Danish leader also upped the ante on the number of electric cars that will be on the road by 2030, saying there could be one million electric and hybrid cars by then. Rasmussen admitted it will “not be easy” to increase the number from a half-million suggested by climate council.

Denmark currently has just over 2 million cars, so it would represent half the private fleet, unless total numbers increase in the meantime.

Anders Stouge of energy company Dansk Energi reacted to Rasmussen’s announcement by tweeting that “the electricity sector is ready to support the phasing out of sales of petrol and diesel cars”, adding that the industry must supply the necessary infrastructure.

But electric car sales in Denmark are flagging after the government scrapped an incentive scheme at the start of 2017. In 2015, 4,762 plug-in sales were registered but that number plunged to 1,438 and then to 913 in the following years.

In 2017, EV sales represented just 0.4% of the market, while Sweden and Norway registered 5.3% and 39%.

It was actually Rasmussen’s government that decided to end a vehicle registration fee exemption for electric cars, instead plumping for a scheme that would eventually bring it to parity with traditional vehicles by 2022.

Now it seems likely that the Danish PM will have to address tax incentives in order to bring the market in line with his ambitious plans. As Denmark has no domestic car industry, it imposes import taxes that have in the past reached as high as 180%.

Next week, the government will go into specifics and reveal its climate plan, detailing how Denmark will cut emissions from various sectors like transport and agriculture. The government hopes to make the electricity sector 100% fossil fuel free by 2050.

Germany selects lower gear, supports 30% CO2 car cuts

Germany’s environment ministry revealed on Wednesday (26 September) that the Bundesrepublik will back an EU-wide 30% CO2 cut for cars and vans – lower than expected by green NGOs – ahead of an important vote in the European Parliament next week.

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