Call for thermal cars 2035, some European regions are asking for a more pragmatic approach to the transition

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An alliance between the regions that host the great automobile hubs of the old continent to ask the European Union to reconsider the ban on the sale of internal combustion engines, set for 2035. 28 local administrations have joined it – including the Lombardy, Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Veneto, Abruzzo and Molise – and who ask Europe to “create a European mechanism to support a just, equitable and successful transition for the Regions” and to “support requalification and updating of skills of the workforce” to avoid job losses.

For Guido Guidesi, councilor for productive activities of Lombardy and vice president of the Alliance, the latter represents “a new tool with which to strengthen the defensive strategy of the automotive sector. On the altar of the transition, we cannot sacrifice skills and abilities and above all a leadership acquired over a hundred years of research, innovation and entrepreneurial decisions”. The reference is to the technology of heat engines, including “electrified” ones.

“In our opinion – continues the commissioner – we run three great risks. The first: component companies may not be able to convert, with the effects that we can imagine on employment. The second is that the world of expensive electric cars excludes a significant portion of citizens from the possibility of buying a car. The third is economic, strategic, productive and industrial, handing over to other non-European competitors a sector that we have presided over with many sacrifices”. In this case, the “non-European competitors” are the Chinese multinationals, which control the natural resources needed to produce batteries: about 70% of the accumulators come from there.

Once again, therefore, the importance of an ecological transition under the banner of technological neutrality is underlined: “We think that in order to achieve the environmental objectives that have been rightly set, the solution is full technological neutrality, i.e. being able to give continuity to the endothermic engine through the use of new eco-compatible fuels that allow us to achieve zero impact in circulation. Developing alternatives such as biofuels can also represent an entrepreneurial opportunity, capable of safeguarding the environment and employment”.

Considerations that come in perfect synchrony with the latest statements by Luc Triangle, general secretary of the global union IndustriAll (representing over 50 million workers): “In the automotive industry of the Old Continent, 35% of jobs are threatened by electricity. To face the transition we need a European industrial strategy to maintain and create good jobs, while decarbonising the sector”.

“The automotive industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation. Large-scale job losses, increased pressure on remaining workers and social damage will be inevitable if the electrification and automation of the industry continues to be left to market forces alone,” Triangle reiterated: “We need investments to transform existing plants and develop the supply chains needed to produce the vehicles we need in Europe and around the world to address the climate urgency. To ensure a just transition and keep workers on board in this industrial revolution, we need to have negotiated strategies that better anticipate the changes underway.” In our country, the effects of a disorderly and “electrocentric” ecological transition could cause even greater damage to employment: according to Fiom, Fim-Cisl and Uilm, the transition will involve 250,000 workers, of which 120,000 – almost half, therefore – will be “particularly at risk”. Percentages that could affect related industries in similar proportions.

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