A law, passed by the European Parliament on Tuesday, will ban the sale of new fossil fuel-powered cars within the EU from 2035.

Final approval of the law is expected in March after EU countries agreed to the deal in October.

Following the implementation of the law, car manufacturers can sell only zero-emissions vehicles within the EU, be they fully electric or hydrogen powered. Additionally, the law will require an overall 55% cut in emissions from new cars sold from 2030 compared with 2021 levels. New vans must comply with the 100% CO2 cut by 2050 and a 50% cut by 2030.

The EU cites external competition to Europe’s traditional industry of car manufacturing as a potential positive impact of this law. Car manufacturers will be forced to adapt more quickly to the changing market.

EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans warned the EU parliament that between last year and the end of this year China will bring 80 models of electric car to the market, stating that “we don’t want to give up this essential industry to outsiders”. China currently accounts for 38% of electric vehicle (EV) sales.

Many European car manufacturers are already competing to bring new electric models to the market. Timmermans said “the European car industry […] went a long way in the last three or four years in understanding where the global car industry is heading”. Currently, around 12% of vehicles sold in the EU are fully electric.

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The new legislation came as part of a series of new EU laws pushing for greater action against climate change as the bloc seeks to become a “climate neutral” economy by the year 2050. However, the environmental consequences of lithium mining continue to raise problems as electrification is promoted as key to a sustainable future.

Rechargeable batteries for EVs currently account for the bulk of the lithium market. Growth in lithium production is expected to adapt to demand, reaching 183.4 kilotonnes in 2025.

Currently, the so-called “lithium triangle” between Chile, Argentina and Bolivia is home to 75% of the world’s lithium resources, but this week India announced the discovery of 5.9 million tonnes of lithium found in the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir, potentially opening the market.