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March 13, 2024

As voters reject the internal combustion engine ban, will candidates do the same?

By Bill Wirtz

According to reporting by Euractiv, surveys show that voters in Germany, Poland and France consider a ban on the internal combustion engine (ICE) to be their least favourite climate policy. Among 15,000 respondents, a ban on the ICE ranked amongst the least preferred climate policies, followed by CO₂ taxes and road tolls, except for electric cars. Most notably, the measure also finds overwhelming rejection in the voting blocks of political parties that, on a European level, support it, including “centre-left parties such as Germany’s SPD, Poland’s Lewica, and France’s Parti Socialiste”.

As it currently stands, the European Union has passed a ban on the internal combustion engine, which will take effect in 2035, meaning that no new vehicles can be sold from that year on. However, the ban is up for review in 2026 and could be reconsidered depending on the preferences of lawmakers at that stage.

The Consumer Champs survey for candidates for the European Parliament election in June reflects this important question for individual mobility in question 2 of the survey. Only those candidates who favour lowering gasoline taxes will be awarded 10 points on that question. Increasing gasoline taxes, promoting electric vehicles, or a combination of both will not award them with any points.

The Consumer Choice Center’s point-awarding system in this survey represents the wishes of consumers, many of whom will be participating in the upcoming European elections in June. Our reasoning is the following:

Consumers need to be the driver of market supply. While there is a need for sustainable solutions, outright bans contradict consumer choice and are not technology-neutral. Vehicles with ICE have reduced their petrol consumption considerably over the last few decades, which is a direct response to consumer demand for lower running costs for operating their vehicles – this has done more for the environmental sustainability of individual transport than government measures. Those consumers who choose electric vehicles remain free to do so but should not be privileged over other consumers, especially because their vehicles often are more accessible to higher-income households compared to traditional vehicles. From an economic standpoint, the EU would also penalise its own manufacturing industry in favour of markets in Asia and North America.