Trucks on a motorway

EU calls for 90% reduction in truck emissions by 2040

Monday, February 20, 2023 - 09:06
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The European Commission has published its proposals for future CO2 standards for trucks and buses over the next two decades. The key proposals are that CO2 emissions would reduce on average compared to 2019 levels by:

  • 45% from 1 January 2030
  • 65% from 1 January 2035
  • 90% from 1 January 2040 onwards

New city buses will have to be 100% zero-emission from 2030.

The proposals say: “It will be for manufacturers to decide which technologies they use to achieve these targets, e.g. electrification, hydrogen fuel cells or hydrogen in internal combustion vehicles.”

Photo by Markus Spiske

The new targets align with the EU’s aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Rules to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will come into force in 2035.

Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, said: “To reach our climate and zero pollution goals all parts of the transport sector have to actively contribute. In 2050, nearly all of the vehicles on our roads have to be zero-emission. Our Climate Law requires it, our cities demand it, and our manufacturers are gearing up for it.

“With [the] proposal, we are making sure that new trucks are becoming less polluting and that more buses with zero emissions will ride through our cities. Fighting the climate crisis, enhancing the quality of life of our citizens, and boosting Europe’s industrial competitiveness go hand-in-hand.”

However, hopes that renewable and low-carbon fuels for road transport have a viable future are dashed by the Commission’s specifically identified determination to divert these resources to the aviation and marine sectors, despite their ability to use well-established technical and fuelling infrastructure.

While still to fully analyse the proposals, the manufacturers’ organisation ACEA has some reservations, particularly over their lack of co-ordination with the recent Euro-7 proposals.

Its chairman, Volvo Group chief executive Martin Lundstedt, said: “While other world regions are incentivising their way towards zero-emission mobility, Europe is trying to regulate its way – and even that is not being done in a harmonised way.”

Referring to the need for zero-emissions to be more profitable than diesel in B2B operations, Lundstedt cautioned: “If this does not happen rapidly, operators won’t buy our vehicles, and as a result we will simply not be able to meet the CO2 targets. At the end of the day, vehicle technology – be it battery-electric, fuel-cell electric or hydrogen-powered trucks – is only one part of the solution. To succeed with this transition of our industry, we urgently need coherent, joined-up policies.”

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