New EU plans for less CO2 in road transport toward 2040

The European Commission has proposed ambitious new CO2 emissions targets for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) from 2030 onwards. These targets will help to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector. Trucks, city buses, and long-distance buses are responsible for over 6% of total EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and more than 25% of GHG emissions from road transport.

Especially in the freight sector, emissions are increasing. This is mainly due to growing road transport demand, which is expected to keep rising.

Stronger emission standards

The strengthened emissions standards would ensure that the HDV segment of the road transport sector contributes to the shift to zero-emissions mobility and the EU’s climate and zero pollution objectives.

The Commission proposes phasing in stronger CO2 emissions standards for almost all new HDVs with certified CO2 emissions, compared to 2019 levels, specifically:

  • 45% emissions reductions from 2030;
  • 65% emission reductions from 2035;
  • 90% emissions reduction from 2040.

To stimulate the faster deployment of zero-emission buses in cities, the Commission also proposes to make all new city buses zero-emission as of 2030.

In line with the European Green Deal and REPowerEU objectives, this proposal will also positively impact the energy transition by lowering demand for imported fossil fuels and enhancing energy savings and efficiencies in the transport sector. It will benefit European transport operators and users by reducing fuel costs and total cost of ownership and ensuring a wider deployment of more energy-efficient vehicles. It will also improve air quality, notably in cities.

European cleantech industry

Moreover, this sector is crucial to support the European cleantech industry and boosting international competitiveness. The EU is a market leader in the production of trucks and buses, and a common legal framework helps to secure that position for the future. In particular, the revised standards provide a clear and long-term signal to guide EU industry investments in innovative zero-emission technologies and boost the rollout of recharging and refueling infrastructure.

From diesel to electric

Most heavy-duty vehicles in the EU fleet (99%) currently run on internal combustion engines, fuelled mainly by imported fossil fuels such as diesel. This adds to the EU’s energy dependency and current energy market volatility.

The current HDV emissions standards date from 2019 but no longer align with the EU’s climate objectives. This is because existing legislation does not provide a sufficiently clear and long-term signal to investors. The proposed CO2 standards align with the EU’s increased climate ambitions, the Fit for 55 package, and the Paris Agreement.

Recharging and refueling infrastructure

To support the proposal, investments must be channeled into zero-emission vehicles and the recharging and refueling infrastructure. Accordingly, the Commission has already proposed the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation to develop the necessary charging infrastructure to support the green transition of the heavy-duty vehicles sector. In particular, the Commission proposed to install charging and fuelling points at regular intervals on major highways: every 60 kilometers for electric charging and every 150 kilometers for hydrogen refueling.

Update March 6, 2023

Germany has put pressure on the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to propose allowing combustion cars running exclusively on e-fuels to continue to be sold after the cut-off date.

A final vote on the issue was due on March 7 but was delayed amid fears that Germany could abstain, which would torpedo the regulation.

Source: EU

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Walther Ploos van Amstel  

Passie in logistiek & supply chain management