The current vehicle requirements in the European Union are not sufficient for limiting the earth’s warming to only up to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a newly published report.

The report said the EU should enforce zero emissions for passenger cars starting from 2029 to 2023, depending on tolerance for temporary emission excesses. Meanwhile, zero emissions in heavy vehicles should be achieved beginning in 2034 to 2038.

The study, conducted by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, calculated the share of the global emissions the EU should achieve to contribute to the global 1.5-degree target — also called the emission budget.

They applied a global carbon price pathway to perform the calculation. The Fraunhofer study developed two emission pathways — the first is meeting the 1.5-degree target on time by 2050, while the second allows temporary excesses, extending the timeline to 1.5-degree warming by 2100.

Based on Fraunhofer’s calculation, the EU’s emission budget by 2050 should be 37 gigatonnes. Of those total emissions, transportation will account for approximately 10 gigatonnes. Counting the possibility of temporary excesses, the EU may produce up to 44 gigatonnes by 2050, in which transportation will contribute 12 gigatonnes to the total amount. In either case, 95 percent of emissions in the transportation sector come from road vehicles.

Per 2020 data, road vehicles in the EU produce 0.9 gigatonnes of emissions annually. At the current rate, the EU will use up the limit of the emission budget in around 11 years or 13 years if temporary excesses are allowed. The study concluded that the EU must reduce emissions in passenger and heavy vehicles faster because it had used up a significant portion of its emission budget.

Most cars in the EU have an average lifespan of 15 years, meaning that the EU should implement zero emissions requirements by 2029 to achieve emission-free road transport by 2044.

If the EU does not introduce zero emissions in road transport by 2029, it must require new fossil-fueled vehicles to reduce emissions by 70 percent in 2030 and then achieve zero emissions in 2033. It will allow the EU to align its emission budget with the target with temporary excesses.

However, the EU recently announced that zero-emission requirements for new cars would become effective in 2035. The new rules would provide a 55 percent reduction of emissions by 2030, significantly lower than the reduction target the EU needs to meet within that time frame.

Authors of the published research also said that hybrid vehicles could operate a few years longer in the EU than conventional vehicles. However, authorities should require hybrid vehicles to have a greater range of electric operations than their internal combustion counterparts.

Swedish study shows similar result

Another new study published by the Swedish Climate Policy Council showed a parallel result with the Fraunhofer study. According to the study, Sweden and other countries within the EU should speed up the process of transitioning to net zero if they want to achieve the climate goal on time.

Sweden follows the EU mandate regarding the regulation of emissions from road traffic. The EU specifies the emission budget per member country annually, based on a gradually decreasing emission target trajectory to 2030. Per the EU’s rule, member countries that do not meet the target trajectory can use their saved credits or buy credits from other countries.

Sweden must reduce its emissions by 1 million tonnes a year until 2030, according to the EU’s trajectory. Around half of Sweden’s emissions come from road traffic, and the country has managed to reduce 0.5 million tonnes of emissions from road traffic annually over the past decade.