Truck CO2: Europe’s chance to lead

(Transport and Environment, 5 Apr 2023) T&E's position paper on the proposed new EU CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

The European Commission’s proposal to review the CO2 emission standards for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) is the most important legislative initiative to regulate climate emissions from trucks and buses in Europe. HDVs – or all road vehicles above 3.5 tonnes moving goods and passengers – are responsible for 28% of climate emissions from road transport in Europe, while accounting for only 2% of the vehicles on the road. If no action is taken, these emissions will continue to grow.

To reach climate neutrality by 2050, trucks and buses need to be entirely decarbonised. Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) – which include battery electric (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) as well as hydrogen combustion trucks – are the only available technology which can cut emissions from new sales quickly, fully decarbonise the heavy-duty sector in the long-term, and eliminate harmful air pollution. The Commission proposes to increase their sales through a -45% CO2 reduction target for HDVs in 2030, a -65% target in 2035 and a -90% target in 2040.

The shortcomings of the Commission proposal

A CO2 target of -90% might seem close enough to full decarbonisation at first sight. But due to a number of shortcomings, the proposal would only reduce emissions from HDVs by 56% until 2050 (against 1990 levels). This both fails the EU’s climate ambitions and Europe’s chance to retain its industrial leadership of the sector. While the Commission proposal brings a number of improvements compared to the current regulation, it is falling short in four key aspects.

External link

Transport and Environment, 5 Apr 2023: Truck CO2: Europe’s chance to lead