EU agrees first CO2 reductions for trucks, buses

Brussels – EU negotiators agreed early Tuesday to reduce polluting carbon dioxide emissions for new trucks and buses by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, following suit for the first time on similar curbs for car manufacturers.

Common climate goals

The targets are part of EU efforts to meet its climate goals and limit global warming. Vehicle exhaust fumes make up a large share of the emissions linked to climate change.

“The new targets and incentives will help tackle emissions, as well as bring fuel savings to transport operators and cleaner air for all Europeans,” said EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

“Today’s agreement closes a gap in European environmental legislation. It ensures that the heavy-duty vehicle sector starts contributing its share to our climate goals,” added Romanian Environment Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

The deal, struck by representatives of the European Parliament and of member states, includes an interim goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 per cent by 2025.

The EU legislature had sought a higher reduction target of 35 per cent by 2030 but member states succeeded in pushing through the goal they had agreed in December.

“It is shameful that some governments still put the interests of their industry before the interests of the people,” said the parliament’s representative, Green EU lawmaker Bas Eickhout. He pointed the finger at Germany and some central European states.

Transport emissions must decrease

By comparison, car manufacturers must reduce vehicle emissions by 37.5 per cent between 2021 and 2030.

The less stringent targets for heavy goods vehicles result from the fact that fuel efficiency is an important selling point in that market, providing an incentive for manufacturers to keep emissions low and meaning there is less room for further improvement.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) called the goals “highly demanding” due to a lack of infrastructure for electric or hydrogen trucks, which would help keep fleet emissions low.

“We cannot expect transport operators to suddenly start buying electric or other alternatively-powered trucks if there is no business case for them and it is not possible to easily charge the vehicles along all major EU motorways,” said ACEA chief Erik Jonnaert.

But Stef Cornelis of Transport and Environment, an advocacy group, welcomed the deal as “excellent news” after 20 years without progress on the issue, while calling for far more ambitious standards in future.

The deal requires the official approval of EU member states and lawmakers, a move that is expected to be a formality.