Diesel and petrol-fuelled cars banned in Brussels by 2035


The Brussels-Capital Region has approved its ambitious climate plan, which includes a ban on engines that run on diesel or petrol, including LPG

Climate neutral by 2050

If you live in Brussels and you drive a car, you’ve got 16 years to go electric or switch to an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV). The government of the Brussels-Capital Region approved its far-reaching climate plan today, which includes a complete ban on cars that run on diesel or petrol by 2035.

Brussels is the first of Belgium’s three regions to approve a definitive version of a climate plan. All three regions must approve a plan that will be brought together to create a national plan. Member states must submit climate plans to EU authorities by the end of this year in keeping with the Paris Accord.

The measures in Brussels’ plan will see CO2 levels drop by 40% by 2030. The capital will be climate neutral by 2050. According to environment minister Alain Maron (Ecolo), the measures are along the same lines as other major European cities.

Cars running on diesel will be banned by 2030 and all other petrol vehicles five years later. That includes engines that run on LPG. That leaves electric vehicles or other AFVs, such as biodiesels, hydrogen and solar-powered, though there are currently few options on the market.

Investment in public transport

In addition, motorised two-wheeled vehicles will be subject to the requirements of the low-emission zone. By 2022, the most polluting motorcycles will be banned.

The government plans major investments in public transport, cycling infrastructure and pedestrian access. Along with additional metro and train stations, several cycle networks are planned, as are pedestrian tunnels. Tram and bus routes will also be increased.

The government is also working to reform vehicle tax laws so that drivers would be taxed according to their use rather than ownership. In other words, the more you drive, the higher the tax.

Auto federation Febiac is critical of the plan. “This major announcement is impossible to achieve and will not become a reality without much clearer and more effective solutions,” a Febiac spokesperson told Bruzz. “Specific plans, measures and the budget to work through all of it in such a time period are non-existent.”

Only 10% of residents have a garage, so we need more charging stations, and fast

- Cathy Macharis

Other mobility experts disagree. Cathy Macharis of VUB’s Centre for Urban Studies told Bruzz that the plan was “certainly possible” to roll out. “The average lifespan of a car is 15 years, so now is the time to announce the goals.”

She is concerned, however, about the lack of infrastructure in Brussels for electric vehicles. “Only 10% of residents have a garage,” she said. “So we need more charging stations, and fast. Businesses are also going to have to install charging stations.”

Hasselt University mobility expert Willy Miermans told the paper that the “mess of fossil fuels must go” and that 16 years was time enough to achieve that. “The price of electric cars are indeed an obstacle. But a European law will take effect in 2021 that requires car manufacturers to produce fleets that emit a maximum of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre. So if they produce polluting SUVs, for instance, they have to produce a fleet of electric vehicles in compensation. The supply will then increase, forcing down prices.”

According to Macharis, Brussels made the right move by creating its own climate plan. “The measure will influence the purchasing patterns in Flanders and Wallonia,” she said. “Otherwise, they can’t drive to the capital.”

Photo: Mario Guti/GETTY